Nigeriaâ’s Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Barrister Solomon Dalung on Monday 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 in2020, saying they are comparable to facilities used in hosting international sporting competition worldwide.
Barrister Dalung spoke at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the 20th edition of the Sports Festival at the Media Centre of the National Stadium in Abuja.
An MOU is usually signed between the Ministry of Sports and the state to which the right of hosting the Sports Festival has been granted. The document spells out the duties and obligations of both the Sports Ministry and the hosting state. It also touches on the composition of the Main and Local Organising Committee of the Games.
The Sports Minister who was in Benin City two weeks ago to assess the level of work on facilities for the Games said at the signing of the MOU: 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 will 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.
The Minister told the Edo State Government that in order to successfully host the 2020 Sports Festival a number of things needed to be put in place. He outlined them:
(i) Putting in place a Local Organising Committee (LOC) and such subcommittees as it deems necessary.
(ii) Providing befitting board and lodge for members of the MOC, Games Services Sub-Committee and the MOC Secretariat, for the duration of the Festival.
(iii) Ensuring the security of life and property of all dignitaries, athletes, officials, spectators, guests, etc., throughout the period of the Festival.
(iv) Ensuring the physical availability of the approved facilities for all sports on the official programme.
iii) Providing accommodation for accredited athletes and officials including facilities for central feeding.
Barrister Dalung 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. He said massive publicity and sensitization is needed in this regard.
Responding to the Sports Minister’ s remarks, Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who was accompanied to the MoU signing by the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Hon. (Comrade) Phillip Shaibu and Barrister Godwin Dudu-Orumen, Chairman of the Edo State Sports commission, thanked the Sports Ministry for deeming Edo State worthy of hosting the Sports Festival. He said: I express the gratitude of Edo people for the confidence reposed in us by granting us hosting rights to the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival.
We do not take it lightly. Being a state with a history of excellence in sports and having hosted the Games in the past, we know what is involved in the hosting of the Sports Festival.
We are also quite aware of the goals and objectives of the Games, which is to foster peace and unity and also to aid the development of sports at the grassroots. It was as if we knew we were going to host the Festival as we had started renovating and refurbishing existing facilities like the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium as well as initiating the construction of new ones.
The Edo State Governor said his administration planned to take the hosting of the Sports festival to a whole new level “ We need to set new standards as far as the Sports Festival is concerned and I assure you that with the cooperation we are getting from the Sports Ministry, we will certainly pull it off”.Governor Obaseki said.