The Federal Government on Monday in Abuja signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Edo State Government on the hosting of the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival (NSF).
Signing the MoU which is the “Host State Agreement”, Solomon Dalung, the Minister of Youths and Sports Development, said the act was very meaningful.
“This is to restate that Edo was not just offered the hosting rights of the Benin 2020 Festival, but it contested for the rights and won,” he said.
Dalung said Edo contested with Cross River, Delta, Imo and Kaduna State in a rigorous process, and expressed his appreciation of the efforts of governors and people of the states involved.
“I am elated that at the Closing Ceremony of the 19th NSF in Abuja, we were able to secure a Host State for the 20th edition of the Games.
“This ceremony is significant as it not only confirms but reassures Nigerians that the host state for the next NSF is ready and willing to undertake the responsibilities of hosting a festival of this magnitude.
“I am encouraged with the venues and facilities I saw in Edo during my recent visit. From my inspection, Edo has enough facilities to host not just the Festival but international events,” he added.
Dalung advised the state to put in place as soon as possible the festival’s Local Organising Committee (LOC) and such subcommittees as it deems necessary.
He said the state should also provide befitting board and lodge for members of the Main Organising Committee (MOC), Games Services Sub-Committee and the MOC Secretariat.
Dalung also advised the state to ensure that the security of lives and property of all dignitaries, athletes, officials, spectators and guests throughout the period of the Festival was provided.
The minister advised the state to embark on a sensitisation and awareness campaign among its citizens to ensure lots of spectators for the festival tagged “Benin 2020’’.
After signing the MoU, Gov. Godwin Obaseki said the key component of Benin 2020 was the renewal of Nigeria, promoting its core value and peace.
Obaseki said Edo has facilities across the state to successfully host the 20thedition of the NSF, adding that the state was ready for the games.
“I want to express the profound gratitude of all citizens of Edo for the confidence which the Federal Government has reposed in us to host the 2020 NSF.
“We do not take this very lightly, being a state with history in sports. We clearly understand the implications of the hosting rights.
“Edo was an integral part of the idea of formulating a National Sports Festival after the Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970. So, we are very cognisant of the goals and purposes of this sports festival.
“One of its cardinal points is to build unity and patriotism, particularly amongst young people in Nigeria, to develop sports talent and serve as a hunting ground for recruitment of talents at the grassroots,” the Edo state governor said.
Obaseki said the state was already putting finishing touches to reconstruction works at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, adding that this would soon be completed.
He then proposed that a National Council of Sports meeting be held on Feb. 21 for planning to commence early ahead of the 20th NSF slated for March 2020.
Posted by Juliet Ekwebelam (NAN)