Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola
By Femi Solaja
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has said that the state will deliver on its promise of staging a world class sporting fiesta with yesterday's unveiling of the icons for the 18th National Sports Festival tagged Eko 2012.
Fashola said the state would put up a private sector-driven sporting championship, which would rival some of the global tournaments.
The governor at the event said having accepted to stage the tournament, it behoves the state to put up a good show for others to follow.
“For us in Lagos, it will be nice to win the championship, but much more successful is to find more stars through the festival who will bear our torch at global level. I want to commend the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for their efforts so far and the unveiling of the logo, mascot and website is a process to announce in the consciousness of Nigerians about the festival. Lagos being a commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, I believe if we cannot deliver a private-sector driven festival, I doubt if there is any state that can do it.
“Hosting the festival is one of the symbolic gestures of our commitment to sports because we intend to provide facilities for our youths where they can dissipate their energy by taking part in sports. This we will not relent to do as more sports centres will be constructed across the state,” he explained.
The Minister of Sports and Chairman, National Sports Commission (NSC), Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said Lagos would surely deliver on its promise considering the efforts put into the staging of the event so far by the LOC as well as the Fashola-led government.
“I am sure with the unveiling of the icons, it will help to sensitise people about the festival. Sports especially have lot of gains most importantly at engendering friendship and peaceful co-existence. I am confident that Lagos will set higher standards for the festival,” he said.
The NSC boss, however, faulted the idea of staging the festival during the Olympic year, saying, “I believe staging the festival during the Olympic year will not achieve the ideal of the championship and I want to say that from the next festival, we should always see the competition as an avenue to prepare and harvest athletes for major championship like the Olympics,” he said.
In his remarks, NSC Director General, Patrick Ekeji, charged Lagos to raise the bar of the festival in order to fulfil the objectives of the championship.
The occasion also brought together captains of industry and sports technocrats.