What would have been a national embarrassment with the threat of the Edo state government abruptly closing the ongoing 20th edition of the National Sports Festival, NSF on Thursday was averted as the state government and the federal government resolved the issue of finances which the federal government said was being processed.
The Local Organising Committee (LOC) had on Wednesday night said it would close the ceremony by midday Thursday if there are no assurances from the federal government on the release of promised funds to assist the state as a result of several postponements of the games because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youths and Sports Development who also doubles as the Chairman of the Main Organising Committee, Nebeolisa Anako said that the Minister, Sunday Dare met with the state Governor, Godwin Obaseki to acquaint him about the efforts being made to ensure the fund is released.
He said: “I can assure that Edo State will get financial assistance from the Federal Government. The minister met with the state Governor earlier today (Thursday), while the Presidency also contacted him to confirm that the process of getting the fund is at an advanced stage.
” The ministry is yet to know how much the Federal Government will release to the host state. Also, if any money has been released as the accounting officer of the ministry, I will know. But it is certain that the government will support Edo State financially.”
While noting that it is the duty of the host to bankroll the NSF, Anako said that the financial assistance is being given based on the several postponements the Games suffered due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
” The state government has done well to provide world-class facilities, while the Games Village is bubbling with activities as the athletes and officials are ready to go all the way. With this, I will urge everyone to disregard the news of halting the games,” he added.
The MOC head said that the clarification was necessary to assure the 9000 athletes that the NSF would go on as planned, urging them to continue to win medals as they have been doing since the game commenced six days ago.
Corroborating the development, the Deputy Governor of the state who is also the chairman of the LOC, Comrade Philip Shaibu said “I want to thank Mr Governor, thank the Chief of Staff to Mr President and the Vice President and the SGF (Secretary to Government of Federation) and the Minister of Finance for coming to our rescue. Mr Governor had a discussion with them and issues are being resolved and I can assure you that with the level of commitment that we have gotten now from the federal government, the games will go on and we are looking for how to settle our vendors before the federal government’s commitment comes in but I want to assure all that we have a stronger commitment from the federal government, let us just enjoy the game and there will not be shut down again.”