The federal government says it will not allow the ongoing 20th National Sports Festival to shut down as it is processing funds that will be made available to Edo, the host.
“The Ministry has since been at work to secure the financial assistance which it believes is being processed,” said the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development. “The MYSD and EDSG are determined to deliver a successful National Sports Festival.”
The ministry’s Assistant Director of Press, Ramon Balogun, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday.
The assurance came after threats by the Edo government and the Local Organising Committee of the Festival to shut down the competition on Thursday if they did not get President Muhammadu Buhari’s promised financial assistance.
An emergency meeting of the festival’s LOC headed by the Edo Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu held on Wednesday.
Musa Ebomhiana, Project Manager with the Media and Communications Sub-Committee of the LOC, said the decision was necessitated by Mr Buhari’s refusal to fulfil its promise.
“You can quote me that we just finished from an emergency meeting of the LOC (Wednesday), and as I speak with you, we have decided to shut down the festival by 12 noon tomorrow (Thursday).
“The decision was arrived at because the federal government has reneged on its promise to assist the state with funds.
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“Because of that, we are closing the festival,” Mr Ebomhiana said.
According to Mr Balogun, the Ministry and the Main Organising Committee (MOC) for the festival are unaware of any plans or threats by the state to shut down the sports festival as there has been no official meeting or communication that relayed such information.
“The honourable minister, permanent secretary, and directors are on the ground in Benin City where the festival is holding.
“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 Organising Committee (MOC) for the festival. The ministry has no such communication,” said Mr Balogun.
The festival, which started on April 2 after numerous postponement, is scheduled to end on April 14.