Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Barrister Solomon Dalung yesterday praised facilities being put in place by the Edo State Government for the hosting of the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival in Benin City in 2020, saying they are comparable to facilities used in hosting international sporting competitions.
Dalung spoke yesterday at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Edo State Government on the 20th edition of the Sports Festival in Abuja.
The minister, who was in Benin City two weeks ago to assess the level of work on facilities for the Games said, “I am elated that at the closing ceremony of the 19th NSF, we were able to secure a host state for the 20th edition of the Games. This ceremony is therefore very significant as it not only confirms but also reassures Nigerians that the Host for the next National Sports Festival is ready and willing to undertake the responsibilities associated with hosting a festival of this magnitude.
“I am further encouraged with the venues and facilities I saw in Edo State during my recent visit to the State. As I stated during the brief interaction I had with members of the Press immediately after the inspection, Edo State has enough facilities to host the Festival with what is currently on ground. In less than two months they’ll complete the Ogbemudia Stadium, which in my opinion is comparable to facilities elsewhere used in the hosting of international sporting events. Besides this, permanent hostels are being constructed for the games, which will serve for the next thirty to fifty years.
He said whilst he was confident in the ability of Edo State to meet and even surpass the conditions above, he would advise the government to embark on aggressive mass mobilization of spectators to fill all the competition venues during the Festival.
In his own submission, Obaseki said the sporting facilities across the state were being revamped and plans to involve the private sector in the hosting of the Festival.
“We are trying to relive the spirit behind the agreement that was signed few years to begin to look at sports as a business. We will try and get more private sector participation in sports in Nigeria.
“We have plans and you will see as our plans are unveiled. The key differentiating factor is the private sector participation so that we can remove the burden from the government.
“The hosting of the sports festival is part of the whole renewal of Nigeria. Don’t forget that after the civil war, our leaders came together to create the whole idea behind the sports festival.
“We need to focus on preserving the unity of this country, we need to encourage patriotism, we need to encourage our youths. We need to have a mechanism to spot talents especially at the grassroots,” he said.