Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development said on Thursday, that competitions at the 20th National Sports Festival, Edo 2020, will go on as scheduled.
Ramon Balogun, Assistant Director Press in the ministry allayed fears of a shutdown of the festival in a statement in Benin.
The assurance followed threats by the Edo State government and LOC to shutdown the competition on Thursday if they do not get the promised financial assistance from the Federal Government.
Musa Ebomhiana, Project Manager with the Media and Communications Sub-Committee of the festival’s Local Organising Committee (LOC), said the decision was necessitated by Federal Government’s refusal to fulfill a promise.
He said the Federal Government failed to support the State with funds as promised, and the state government had no choice other than shutting down the Festival. “You can quote me that we just finished from an emergency meeting of the LOC, and as I speak with you we have decided to shut down the Festival by 12 noon tomorrow (Thursday)’’.
However, the Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development said the festival will continue as planned. “The Ministry and the Main Organizing Committee (MOC) for the festival are unaware of any plans or threat by the Edo Government to shut down the sports festival as there has been no official meeting or communication that relayed such information.
“The Honorable Minister, Permanent Secretary and Directors are on ground in Benin City where the Festival is holding. It is expected that the Edo State Government would formally invite the Ministry for a meeting should any urgency exist around the National Sports Festival or communicate officially with the Main Organizing Committee (MOC) for the festival. The Ministry has no such communication,” Balogun said.
He explained that funds to support the state government was being processed and will soon be ready. “The Ministry has since been at work to secure the financial assistance which it believes is being processed, and it is determined to deliver a successful National Sports Festival”.
A group under the aegis of Concerned Edo Citizens Forum (CECF) had appealed to the Federal Government to prevent an abrupt shutdown of the ongoing National Sports Festival (NSF).
CECF under the leadership of Roy Oribhabor, said in a statement on Thursday, that the hope and aspirations of many youths who are currently participating in the NSF would be dashed should the Government renege on its promise to Edo.
“We hereby call on Nigeria Government to immediately fulfill the promise made to Edo State Government in regards to the supportive funds. A promise is a hope, Nigeria Government must act now’.’
He added, “As concerned citizens, we are seriously embarrassed and disappointed to note that Nigeria Government has not shown serious capacity to fulfill her promise made to Edo State Government. This is national embarrassment. It’s frustrating, disappointing and great embarrassment to all Nigerians”.
The group however, commended Edo State government over its uncommon display and commitment to host the 20th NSF.
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