Mr. Sunday Dare, Honourable Minister for Youth and Sports Development

Nigeria postpones National Sports Festival over pandemic, paucity of funds

*The Nigerian Government again, postpones 20th National Sports Festival for the fourth time till April 2021 after the emergency meeting of the National Council on Sports

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

Sequel to the emergency meeting of the National Council on Sports convened by the Honourable Minister for Youth and Sports Development, the Federal Government, again, has postponed the Nigeria’s 20th National Sports Festival for the fourth time since its original date of March 21 to April 2020.

It was gathered that the event, originally scheduled to begin February 14, was again postponed till a yet-to-be-confirmed date in April 2021.

The latest decision to shift event was taken Monday, Monday, February 8, 2021, following the emergency meeting of the National Council on Sports Mr. Sunday Dare, Honourable Minister for Youth and Sports Development, Chairman of the Council convened.

The commissioners for youth and sports from the states of the Federation and directors of Sports were said to be in attandance.

Philip Shaibu, Deputy Governor of Edo State, and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the “Edo 2020” games, also attended the meeting.

It is recalled that prior to the recent announcement of this current postponement, the Festival was fixed February 14th – 28th.

This is the fourth postponement the games will be suffering since its original date of March 21st to April 1st 2020.

Report indicated that the latest postponement, however, was occasioned by the second wave of the pandemic and the paucity of funds.

The Edo State Government had requested financial support due to the cost implications it suffered arising from the postponement.

The accommodation prepared at the University of Benin (UNIBEN) was no longer available for the Athletes because students are back to school, according to report.

Subsequently, the National Council on Sports resolved that it was best to shift the festival to a later date due to financial challenges raised by the host state as well as the accommodation difficulties at the University of Benin.

The Council, the Federal Government, Edo State and the Council on Sports agreed that the festival will now hold in April since the earlier February date was no longer feasible.

The Minister said: “We have seen the Sports Festival postponed three times. As we speak now, most of us should have arrived Edo state getting ready for February 14, to start the Edo 2020 Sports Festival.

“But flowing from our last meeting a few things came up. There was an undertone that the postponements have occasioned some financial difficulties and strains on the host state.

“And I dare say even on our part as the Ministry, the postponements have also occasioned some financial difficulties.

Dare stated that “on the strength of this similar experience myself, His Excellency the Governor and also Deputy Governor have bounced ideas, the conversation, back and forth.

“Of course, when December came, we knew that almost everything stopped but it was agreed that it was important to approach the Federal Government for financial support.

“I’m glad to report that the Federal Government is favourably disposed to assisting Edo State to host the Festival. In the next few days, we hope to push through the document through the Ministry of Finance to get the financial support to get the festival on track.” According to him, “the importance of the Festival cannot be overemphasised. The idea of not holding the Festival should be thrown out completely.

“It is an Olympics year; it would help shape the athletes for the Olympics.”

The Edo State Deputy Governor also commented that he agreed “the festival should hold before the Olympics to get our athletes fit and to secure points they require for the Olympics.

“Every postponement goes with a cost, but we are totally committed to hosting the festival.

“We are very expectant of the support of the Federal Government to make the festival a reality.”

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