EXCLUSIVE: Why VP Osinbajo Shuned Sports Festival Opening Ceremony
By Amaechi Agbo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo arrived Benin, Edo State Capital on Tuesday to declare open the 2020 National Sports Festival, NSF.
However, despite his arriving there on time, the number two citizen in the country did not carry out his assigned official function as he left the state when it was time for the opening ceremony activities to commence.
Officials and athletes who are participating in the festival were taking aback when he was nowhere to be found during the official opening ceremony.
However, while conjectures are being made in quarters on why Mr Osinbajo shuned the opening ceremony at such hour, Bestchoicessports.com.ng can report that two factors made the Vice President, who his boss, President Mohammadu Buhari did not officially hand over to before he travelled to UK for routine medical check, left abruptly before the ceremony got underway.
While a section of the media believe that Mr Osinbajo left the venue due to bad weather, Bestchoicesports com.ng gathered that the VP left Benin to return to Imo State following another attack on police station by hoodlums.
Recall that the VP had earlier in the day visited the state following burning of a police station and attacks on the Imo State Correctional Centre that left almost 2000 inmates reportedly escaping from the centre.
The Police Station located at Ehime Mbano LGA, was burnt down on Tuesday afternoon and the President, Muhammadu Buhari gave explicit directive to all security agencies to get the perpetrators apprehended.
However, there was twist of event that while the VP and the then Inspector General of Police, Adamu were in Imo state, a new acting Police IGP, Usman Baba was announced in Abuja.
Following the second attack on Tuesday, the VP reportedly rushed back to the state to converse with Governor Hope Uzodinma before he returned to Abuja.
Aside this, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki who declared the festival open in the VP’s stead blamed bad weather for the VP’s inability to perform the ceremonial function.
The ceremony was held a little bit behind schedule due to a downpour, which prevented Osinbajo, who was billed to declare the event open, from attending.
Governor Obaseki, disclosed that the Vice President was unable to make the trip to the venue due to bad weather.
“The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, is regrettably absent as the bad weather affected his flight. He is a friend of the state and he would have loved to be here,” Obaseki said.
The colourful ceremony at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium officially kick-started the Games, after a heavy downpour.
Musician Timi Dakolo, homeboy Nastee and Edo State’s cultural groups lit up the ceremony and thrilled the fans and dignitaries present with their dazzling performances.
The Punch reports that athletes’ parade added more glamour to the ceremony as mascots walked around the pitch to cheers from the crowd.
About 5,000 spectators were at the venue to experience the richness and blend of culture among the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Chairman, Local Organising Committee, Philip Shaibu, who also doubles as the Deputy Governor of Edo State, gave the welcome address and thanked the crowd, who came for the historic event.
After that, Governor Obaseki, beaming with smiles, took to the podium to express his joy at having the festival finally taking place after several postponements.
He said, “It gives me joy that our state is finally hosting the festival, which had suffered several postponements due to COVID-19.”
Obaseki ended his speech by officially declaring the sports festival open, with fireworks on display thereafter to the admiration of the fans at the event.
Recall that the 2020 National Sports Festival suffered several postponments before it commenced on 4th April with many alluding to unhealthy political rivalry between the Edo State government and the federal government as the main reason causing the delay.
Governor Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shuaibu decamped to the People’s Democratic Party in June last year ahead of the 2020 Edo State Governorship election held on September 19, 2020. Both were returned winners at the end of the poll.
The 20th edition of the National Sports Festival NSF will end on Wednesday next week.