FG to provide funds for Edo 2020 in April


’Tana Aiyejina

Minister of Youth and Sports Development Sunday Dare has disclosed that the Federal Government will offer financial assistance to the Edo State Government in hosting the National Sports Festival, which was on Monday postponed to April, with just six days before the opening ceremony of the earlier scheduled date – February 14 to 28.

Dare stated this after Monday’s emergency meeting of the National Council on Sports, which had in attendance state sports commissioners, Directors of Sports, permanent secretaries and the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu.

The festival, earlier scheduled for March 2020, had suffered two postponements due to COVID-19, with the latest shift in date occasioned by the second wave of the pandemic and the paucity of funds, according to the ministry.

The Edo State Government had requested financial support from the FG to host the festival, following the harsh economic conditions caused by COVID-19.

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Rising from the meeting  of the National Council  on Sports on Monday, the council resolved  that it was   best to shift  the festival to a later date due to the financial challenges raised by the host state, and accommodation problems at the University  of Benin (one of the venues), due to the resumption  of academic activities.

According to the resolution of the council, the FG, Edo State and the council agreed that the festival will now hold in April since the February date was no longer feasible.

“We’ve seen the sports festival postponed three times. As we speak now, most of us should have arrived Edo State getting ready for February 14 to start the festival. But after our last meeting, a few things came up,” Dare said in a statement from his media office.

“There was an undertone that the postponements had occasioned some financial difficulties and strains on the host state, and I dare say even on our part as the ministry, the postponements have also occasioned some financial difficulties.  On the strength of this similar experience, I, the (Edo) Governor and Deputy Governor have bounced ideas back and forth.

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“Of course, when December came, we knew that almost everything stopped, but it was agreed that it was important to approach the Federal Government for financial support. I’m glad to report that the Federal Government is favourably disposed to assisting Edo State to host the festival.

“In the next few days, we hope to push through the document through the Ministry of Finance to get the financial support to get the festival on track. The February 14th date was not cast in stone as we wanted to avoid another postponement. But we must agree that the February 14th date is no longer feasible.”

Dare dismissed speculations that the festival might not hold in 2021.

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“The importance of the festival cannot be overemphasised.  The idea of not holding the festival should be thrown out completely. It’s an Olympic year; it would help shape the athletes for the Olympics.”

The Chairman of the Main Organising Committee of Edo 2020 and Edo State Deputy Governor Philip Shuaibu said, “I agree the festival should hold before the Olympics to get our athletes fit and to secure points they require for the Olympics. Every postponement goes with a cost, but we are totally committed to hosting the festival. We are expectant of the support of the Federal Government to make the festival a reality.”

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