Edo State and Ministry of Sports' dispute over money mars ongoing 20th National Sports Festival

The organising committee said they need money from the Federal Government for the games to continue.

Edo state delivers a spectacular show for the opening ceremony of the 20th National Sports Festival

After a slew of delays, the 20th National Sports Festival finally kicked off on Friday, April 2, 2021, with a colourful opening ceremony at the renovated Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.

In the days following, the events have happened thick and fast with a few viral moments.

Lagos State athlete Aminat Idrees competed in Taekwondo-the Poomsae (demonstration) category while heavily pregnant. She won three medals while Delta State, unsurprisingly and Bayelsa State, established early dominance on the medal table.

However, a disagreement between the host Edo State and the Ministry of Youth and Sports threatened to dim the enthusiasm around the game.

Journalists covering the festival were shocked when officials told them to get ready to go home because the games were ending abruptly.

The feedback from the Local Organising Committee (LOC) was that the games would be shut down at 12 pm on Thursday, April 8, because the state had not received any financial support from the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

The ministry on that Thursday morning quickly dispelled the threat from the LOC and assured that the games would go on.

"The Ministry and the Main Organizing Committee (MOC) 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," Ramon Balogun, Assistant Director Press of the ministry, said in a statement.

Balogun further said that the ministry expected the Edo State Government to formally invite the Minister, Permanent Secretary and Director, who were all in Benin, for a conversation.

He then revealed that the state had requested financial support from the Federal Government, which the ministry has been processing.

The Deputy of Edo State Philip Shiabu blew hot after that statement while speaking to journalists in Benin just a few hours after the statement from the ministry.

"We might be shutting down the 20th National Sports Festival," he said firmly before going on to explain that the shutting down was not because of lack of facilities but because of the Federal Government's failure to fulfil its financial obligations to the games.

Shiabu revealed that Edo State kicked off the festivals with commitments from vendors and volunteers, which hinged on the Federal Government's pledge.

"As I speak to you, it took the grace of God for the caterers not to shut down. Other vendors are threatening to shut down and hence the LOC has no choice after a midnight meeting to shut down the 20th National Sports Festival," he said.

"If we don't get full commitment from the Federal Government by noon tomorrow."

"This is not a threat; we are ready to collaborate with the Federal Government with all its policies but it's just that our vendors are threatening to shut down and the state has no resources to commit to the extent that we have already committed," he added.

"It is regrettable to have this situation in our hands."

With the uncertainty spreading like wildfire all through the festival, the LOC and the ministry on Thursday afternoon had a meeting which ended on a positive note according to sources.

Although there has not been any official confirmation on the conclusion of that meeting, Pulse understands that an agreement has been reached between both parties.


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