National Sports Festival Set For Another Postponement …You Are Seeking For Relevance – Shaibu Accuses PTF

National Sports Festival Set For Another Postponement …You Are Seeking For Relevance – Shaibu Accuses PTF

By Amaechi Agbo

The last may not have been heard of the incessant postponement of the 2020 National Sports Festival, NSF slated to hold in Benin, the Edo State capital.

The festival tagged “Edo 2020” has suffered three postponements already with the fourth one said to be announced soon.

The festival which was initially scheduled to hold from March 22nd to April 1, 2020 was indefinitely postponed on March 17th following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

However, after a three-day meeting of the National Council on Sports, NCS from 4 – 6 November 2020, the council recommended the dates of 3rd to 18th December for the festival but these dates were overturned following the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, PTF’s refusal to sanction the dates.

With this on ground, following virtual meeting on Thursday, November 26, with the sports ministry, PTF and National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC in attendance, the festival was shifted from December to January 3-17, 2021.

However, there are reports that the festival will suffer another postponement. This time, it could be shifted to February, 2021.

The latest postponement, according to inside sources, is coming following the disposition of the chairman of the Local Organising Committee, LOC and Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu who it was understood is not particularly happy with the new dates of the festival.

Although the reasons for the latest postponement are imprecise, there are indications that the closeness of the new dates to yuletide festivities is one of the factors.

Another reason is the exclusion of the Edo State government from the November 26 virtual meeting which the LOC chairman was said to have been livid about  

There is also another factor which has to do with the “fear of influx of foreigners to the festival”

You are seeking for relevance – Shaibu Tells PTF

The Edo Deputy Governor of Edo State and chairman, Edo 2020 Local Organising Committee, Philip Shaibu has accused the PTF of ‘seeking for relevance’ following the postponement of the festival from December 2020 to January 2021.  

“If you look at some approvals that PTF have given and you juxtapose it with other ones, you will discover that there is gaps, and those gaps are the ones giving that feelings that they just want to be there to be relevant.

“As far as I am concerned, sport is one game that has continually united Nigeria. PTF should be sensitive to the mood of the nation. Our young men and women want to be engaged.

“You are blaming Super Eagles for playing 4-4 and going to draw in Sierra Leone. Why won’t they play 4-4? Why won’t they draw in Sierra leone when you are not developing your own sports? I am not too excited that we are just hanging in the air, waiting for the PTF for approval.

“You cancelled Edo 2020 two days to the tournament after giving us approval that the tournament will not be postponed, fine. We need to take care of our health, and we agree but it must not go without a cost. Since then, all football teams have been at home, all sporting activity have been at standstill,” he said.

The deputy governor asked the PTF to provide stimulus package for the Nigerian athletes who have been at home following months of lockdown as result of covid-19 so as to cushion their suffering since they have not been earning morning.

“These people must earn a living. So PTF should also calculate that in their own programme to give various clubs stimulus package to be able to augment those idle time they did not work because those people are living, they are eating. That is what is done elsewhere. 

“If you are copying America and Europe, we should copy them full. We should not copy them in one way to wear mask and not copy them in the other way of stimulus package. It has to be holistic.”

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