National Sports Festival ends abruptly

Minister of Youths and Sports Development Sunday Dare has expressed satisfaction with the level of compliance with COVID-19 protocols by athletes and officials participating in the 20th National Sports Festival (NSF) in Benin.

The ongoing National Sports Festival, tagged: “Edo 2020,” is to end abruptly on Thursday (today).

This was revealed by the Festival’s Local Organising Committee in a statement late on Wednesday.

According to the statement, the decision was taken by the LOC after an emergency meeting on Wednesday evening.

It said this followed the lack of funds to continue with the games after the Federal Government refused to fulfil its funding promise.

It said: “The Local Organising Committee regrets to announce that it will end the games abruptly tomorrow, Thursday, April 8, 2021 for lack of funds.

“Rising from an emergency meeting on Wednesday evening, the LOC said it has to take this hard decision due to lack of funds having expended its reserves to kick start the games.

“Regrettably, the FG is yet to redeem its pledge to support us as the host state financially for the cost of postponements.

“So, we are left with no option than to end the games at noon tomorrow.”

The Games, it was revealed, will be shut down by 12noon on Thursday (today).

Musa Ebomhiana, Project Manager with the Media and Communications Sub-Committee of the festival’s LOC, said the decision was necessitated by Federal Government’s refusal to fulfill its promise.

Ebomhiana 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.

Newsmen report that this decision was taken after an emergency meeting of the festival’s LOC headed by the Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu.

Ebomhiana said: “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).

“The decision was arrived at because the Federal Government has reneged on its promise to assist the state with funds.

“Because of that, we are closing the festival.”

Ebomhiana however did not disclose how the LOC was going to shut down the festival.

NAN could not get the reaction of the festival organisers, the Main Organising Committee, to this development as at the time of this report.

It could not also get the reaction of the festival’s owners, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.

John Joshua-Akanji, an aide of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, however responded immediately he was contacted.

The Special Assistant on Media to the Minister urged NAN to get across to the MOC’s Secretary, Peter Nelson, who could however not be reached.

NAN reports that Edo State had solicited financial support from the Federal Government for it to play host to the other states of the federation and the FCT.

It had hinged its demand on the inconveniences brought about by the several postponements of the festival, which was earlier billed for March 2020.

The postponements were as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rescheduled festival had commenced on April 2 and was to last till April 14.

If it is shut down on Thursday, it would just be in its seventh day.

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