Edo’s state government says the federal government has yet to deliver on its pledge of financial support to the state for hosting the 20th National Sports Festival (NSF) labeled “Edo 2020”.
Sixtus Omokhagbor, an assistant to Philip Shaibu, the vice governor of Edo and chairman of the festival’s Local Organizing Committee (LOC), made the unveiling Thursday in Benin.
The festival was held from April 2 to April 14 in Benin.
This was after several postponements from the original date of March 20 to April 1, 2020.
Due to the delay, which was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government had promised to support the state government with some funds.
The promise was further reinforced by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development halfway through the festival when Edo threatened to close the event.
Meetings were hastily arranged between the LOC and the festival’s Main Organizing Committee (MOC), which was led by federal government officials.
This is to avoid a closure and an abrupt end to the festival, which would have greatly disrupted the competition and also caused inconvenience to athletes and coaches.
However, the festival was not shut down after Edo’s state government withdrew due to various pleas.
At the time, according to unconfirmed sources, N500 million had been pledged by the federal government to the state government of Edo.
About five months later, however, the promise had yet to be fulfilled.
Omokhagbor said the Edo state government has not been able to understand or be informed about what delayed the fulfillment of the pledge.
“Everything we did then was based on agreement with the federal government, and the state government had to stretch beyond its financial capacity to ensure the festival took place.
“Edo provided the best facilities and also made preparations for the festival before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the festival being postponed three times.
“Before this postponement, a lot of money had been spent. In view of this, the federal government has promised to support us in organizing the festival.
“However, it is disappointing that about five months after the festival took place successfully, the state has not received anything from the federal government as promised,” he said.
Omokhagbor added that the only information the state government received after investigating the cause of the delay was that the money was still being processed.
John Joshua-Akanji, an assistant to Sunday Dare, the youth and sports development minister, said during his response to NAN on the matter that the payment process has begun.
“It is being handled by the presidency and I know the process has begun. However, I am not aware of any payment at this time,” said the Special Assistant on Media to Dare.