Buhari to Declare Open 2020 National Sports Festival in Edo

Muhammadu Buhari
  • Shaibu gives assurance on maintenance of Ogbemudia stadium facilities

The President Muhammadu Buhari has been scheduled to declare the 2020 National Sports Festival in Benin City, Edo State open on March 22.

Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, announced this in Benin City on Tuesday after leading sportswriters to inspect facilities at venues for the national sporting fiesta.

“We have put everything in place for an unprecedented National Sports Festival. I’m happy to inform you that President Muhammadu Buhari will declare the Games open on March 22, while Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will draw curtain on the events,” Shaibu announced.

The deputy governor revealed that the state was working hard towards ensuring that Edo 2020 was the best Games ever in the history of the NSF, which was first held at the National Stadium, Lagos in 1973.

“We are going to have about 17 centres that the events will take place in because like we’ve always said, we want to redefine how the Games are being hosted, so that at the end of the day, Edo will be a reference point. For us, Edo is the home of sports,” Shaibu recalled.

The deputy governor, an acclaimed footballer on the domestic scene, who featured for Insurance FC in the Nigerian top flight League, hinted that Edo was hosting to win the competition.

He stressed that the state’s athletes have been given the necessary exposure and training to bring glory to the state.

“We are hosting to win and win clean,” Shaibu stated with optimism.

“We’ve since started work; since we got the nod to host the festival, our athletes have been going for all national games. We’ve exposed them to compete with majority of the athletes that they would meet at Edo 2020. We also ensured that they competed recently in Akure (AFN’s All-comers Track and Field competition), with most of the athletes that would be going for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. We’ve given them the necessary exposure.

“They will move to camp this week, so what we need to build now is team spirit. We are conscious of not keeping them too long in camp. I was an active sportsman and I know that when you overstay in camp, you hit form and lose form. By the time you get to the tournament proper, you become rusty.”

Meanwhile, fears that the state of the art facilities being put in place at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin for the 2020 National Sports Festival may not be properly maintained have been allayed by the state government.

The Deputy Governor of Edo state, Shaibu Tuesday revealed on Tuesday that the government will send a bill on Asset Management Agency to the Edo State House of Assembly to ensure that the maintenance of the facilities are guaranteed.

He said that the law on their maintenance was necessary to ensure that any government that comes after the present one that is not interested in sports would not allow the facilities to deteriorate.

“I can assure you that an Asset Management Agency will be set up and it will backed up by law. We are going to take the bill to the House of Assembly for its legislation, ” he said, adding that,”that way when a government that doesn’t like sports like the present one, the facilities will not become worse than we met it.”

The Deputy Governor who is also the Chairman of the Edo 2020 Local Organizing Committee said that the government will go into partnership with the private sector in this direction.

He disclosed that the contractors working on the facilities will deliver on time before the opening ceremony on March 22as they are working round the clock to meet the deadline.

“When the Sports Minister (Sunday Dare) visited last week, some of the facilities had not reached the stage they are in now. The workers are on a 8-hour shift and work 24 hours and we are sure they will meet the deadline we gave them”, he stressed.