Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Oluyemi Kayode Stadium in Ado Ekiti was yesterday erupted in protest, as Ekiti State athletes to the 2018 National Sports Festival showed open disapproval over alleged embezzlement of N7 million approved by the state government for the fiesta sports fiesta will kick off in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja tomorrow.
The protesters pointedly accused the management of the state’s Sports Council of pocketing five million Naira made available by the state government and declared a paltry two million Naira as the only approved fund for the team to travel to Abuja for the festival.
An athlete, who craved anonymity told journalists that the negotiations on the funds to be released between state government and the Sports Council have been on for some times now. “It started from N32 million to N19 million and they eventually agreed
on N7 million but they are now telling us that only N2 million was approved by the state government for us to go for the NSF in Abuja.
“We have been preparing for the sports festival which starts on
Thursday December 6, in Abuja since about three months ago. The athletes have been engaging in open camping all the while with most of us coming from across the 16 local government areas of the state,” the athlete further revealed.
However, the General Manager of Ekiti State Sports Council, Deji Samo, accused the protesting athletes as being sponsored for personal interests.
Samo dismissed the athletes’ allegations, saying: “We have sent our file to the governor. We are expecting his response.
“It is when we get approval for fund that we will know how many of the athletes will go for the festival. We will like to go to the competition
with our medal hopefuls. He however admitted that lack of funds necessitated the open camp the athletes were put through during the preparation for the NSF.
“Because of funds, we had to put the athletes through open camp. They have been preparing. All I know is that we are going to the games in
Abuja and we will make the state proud”. About 150 athletes were earlier scheduled to represent the state at sports festival but lack of proper funding could mean less than 30 athletes may end up representing the state in Abuja.
“We have been to the Governor’s Office last week Friday and they
assured us that funds will be made available for our participation.
“Going by the amount released, the athletes will have to make do with
N3,000 per day for the 10-day event. Even the bus to convey the athletes to
Abuja has not been repaired . All we want is for them to produce and
show us the document for the approval of the money, ” he added.
Meanwhile, the state chapter of the Sports Writers Association of
Nigeria (SWAN) will today hold its 2018 edition of the SWAN Cup competition.
This year’s edition, tagged Prince Adeyemi Imperial Alabi SWAN Cup
which will feature the game of Tennis will hold at the Tennis court of
the Trade Fair Complex on Iyin Road in Ado Ekiti by 10:00am.
Sports journalists from the various media establishments and NUJ
Chapels in the state are to slug it out in the annual events with
trophy and cash prizes to be won.