The Federal Government says activities at the ongoing National Sports Festival in Edo State will continue as planned.
This is against the earlier announcement by the Local Organising Committee that the festival will end abruptly at 12noon on Thursday (today) over lack of fund.
FG made its position known by Ramon Balogun, Assistant Director Press Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, on Thursday morning.
The statement read, “The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has clarified that the 20th National Sports Festival, Edo 2020, is going on as planned with competitions going on as scheduled.
“The Ministry and the Main Organizing Committee for the festival are unaware of any plans or threat by the Edo State Government to shut down the sports festival as there has been no official meeting or communication that relayed such information.
“The Honorable Minister, Permanent Secretary and Directors are on ground in Benin City where the Festival is holding, and it is expected that the Edo State Government would formally invite the Ministry for a meeting should any urgency exist around the National Sports Festival or communicate officially with the Main Organizing Committee for the festival. The Ministry has no such communication.
“For the records, the Edo State government due to the cost implications of postponements occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic requested financial assistance from the Federal government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
“The Ministry has since been at work to secure the financial assistance which it believes is being processed. The MYSD and EDSG are determined to deliver a successful National Sports Festival.”
Earlier, the Coordinator of Media and Publicity, National Sports Festival, Ebomhiana Musa, in a statement on Wednesday night, said a decision to end the competition was taken at an emergency meeting of the Local Organising Committee headed by Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu.
He said, “The Local Organising Committee, Edo2020 regrets to announce that it will end the games abruptly tomorrow, Thursday, April 8, 2021, for lack of funds.
“Rising from an emergency meeting this evening, the LOC says it has to take this hard decision due to lack of funds having expended its reserves to kick start the games.
“Regrettably, the FG is yet to redeem its pledge to support us as the host state financially for the cost of postponements. So, we are left with no option but to end the games at noon tomorrow.”
The development is coming despite the postponement of the festival on several occasions.
No fewer than 8,000 athletes from different states of the federation are participating in the festival.
Edo State had raised the alarm over the Federal Government’s failure to provide fund 24 hours to the commencement of the festival.