The Sports Ministry has given reasons for the delay in hosting of the National Sports Festival (NSF). The festival, held in Lagos in 2012, was originally billed to take place in Calabar, the Cross River capital in 2014. But it has suffered several postponements, forcing the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung to threaten to stage the games in Abuja by the first quarter of this year.
The year is already in its second quarter and stakeholders in the nation’s sports are worried by the delay in staging the festival.However, the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung said yesterday that the circumstances leading to the delay in hosting of the National Sports festival would be put to rest soon.
The Minister’s Special Adviser on Media, Mrs. Nneka Ikem-Anibeze, who spoke with The Guardian, revealed that the ministry was waiting on the Council of Directors of Sports in the country to meet and come up with a date and other recommendations for the fiesta.
“For now, we are hoping that the government of Cross River State will still host the National Sports Festival this year,” Ikem-Anibeze said. “But the Council of Directors of Sports will have to meet and come up with a recommendation on when the festival will take place.”
According to her, other states are waiting to host the festival should Cross River fail to meet the recommendations of the Council of Directors of Sports. “There are other states willing to host the National Sports, but we have to get a clear picture from Cross River State. But as I said, one major factor that is delaying the fiesta is the meeting of the Council of Directors of Sports,” Ikem-Anibeze.
But a Director of Sports in one of the South South states told The Guardian yesterday that the ministry was only looking for a flimsy excuse, pointing out that it was the duty of the sports ministry to call for the Council of Directors of Sports. “It is the duty of the sports ministry to call for the National Council of Directors of Sports meeting because they have to provide the fund,” the Director said.
The Guardian learnt that apart from the several excuses being given by Cross River State government, another issue that got the Sports Minister angry was when the state reportedly requested the Federal Government through the sports ministry to give it the sum of N650 million to enable it put finishing touches to its preparations.