National Sports Festival: Abuja On Standby As Edo/FG Play Hide-And-Seek
By Amaechi Agbo
Again, uncertainties have continued to becloud the planned rescheduled 20th edition of National Sports Festival, NSF slated to start on Friday this week.
Feelers have it that with less than 48 hours to the arrival of athletes from across the 36 states of the federation including FCT for the “Nigerian Olympics”, it is becoming highly likely that Edo State might not host the festival.
This is obviously for one reason: the state “does not have resources” to host the games, howver, the federal government promised to bail out the situation.
With the promise made in February 2021, up until at the time of this report, the fund has not been released.
Edo/FG Play Hide-And-Seek
The Edo State government has continuously declared its readiness to host the festival at any point but lamented that it does not have the wherewithal to do so.
However, as time and days are drawing closer, the federal government is yet to release the needed fun for the Festival even as it has put in place a strategic PLAN B host city for the festival – Abuja.
Abuja is considered the favoured option after Edo State due to the fact that it last hosted the previous edition in 2018. It is believed that the federal capital has the infrastructure to host the festival at a short notice.
Edo State will not let go easily their right to host the festival because they were declared as the host state in December 2018 in Abuja during the last edition
Secondly, the state have invested hugely on Infrastructure development and renovation for the past two years despite Covid-19 pandemic.
Dare Daring The Odds
The minister of youth and sports, Sunday Dare has been restless since the past couple of days with regards to the festival hosting. With a lot of projections and conjectures being made over the hosting, the Minister who will be 2 years in office on August 21 this year, has been a frequent guest to the Aso Villa.
With a cup in right hand and lantern in the left, Dare has been visiting the presidency begging and requesting for the needed fund to execute the festival. Despite the urgency, he is yet to receive the affirmative response.
While addressing the journalist at the Media Center of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium Abuja late December last year during the SWAN FCT Week, Mr Dare said that the greatest challenge he has faced in office was postponing the festival in March last year.
And he made a solemn promise to ensure that the festival will come to reality.
Being a man of his word, corrageous and daring, Dare is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival is held.
However, the powers to decide this is far out of his reach.
The Court Case To Avoid, The Compensation To Explore
Despite Abuja being the favoured plan B host city mootedly, however, the federal government is cautious of being dragged into a legal war with Edo State on the hosting right.
It could be recalled that the federal government and the Edo State government early 2019 in Abuja signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the hosting of the festival.
Should the federal government decides to pull the festival away from Edo, theere is likelihood of a legal battle being exploited by Edo State.
But to avoid this option which the federal government is not ready for, the next option would be to allow the Edo State host the 21st edition of the festival later in 2022.
Whichever this unhealthy pendulum swings, one thing is certain, where two elephants fight, the grasses are always the victims.