Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung yesterday praised facilities being put in place by the Edo State Government for the hosting of the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival in Benin City in 2020, saying they are comparable to facilities used in hosting international sporting competitions.
Dalung spoke at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the 20th edition of the sports festival at the Media Centre of the National Stadium in Abuja.
A MoU is usually signed between the Ministry of Sports and the state to which the right of hosting the sports festival has been granted. The document spells out the duties and obligations of both the Sports Ministry and the hosting state. It also touches on the composition of the Main and Local Organising Committee of the Games.
The Sports Minister, who was in Benin City two weeks ago to assess the level of work on facilities for the Games said at the signing of the MoU:
“I am elated that at the Closing Ceremony of the 19th NSF, we were able to secure a host state for the 20th edition. This ceremony is therefore very significant as it not only confirms, but also reassures Nigerians that the host for the next national sports festival is ready and willing to undertake the responsibilities associated with hosting a festival of this magnitude.
“I am further encouraged with the venues and facilities I saw in Edo State during my recent visit to the state. As I stated during the brief interaction I had with members of the press immediately after the inspection, Edo State has enough facilities to host the festival with what is currently on ground. In less than two months they’ll complete the Ogbemudia Stadium, which in my opinion is comparable to facilities elsewhere used in the hosting of international sporting events. Besides this, permanent hostels are being constructed for the games, which will serve for the next 30 to 50 years.”
Dalung said whilst he was confident in the ability of Edo State to meet and even surpass the conditions above, he would advise the government to embark on aggressive mass mobilisation of spectators to fill all the competition venues during the festival. He said massive publicity and sensitization is needed in this regard.
Responding to the Sports Minister’s remarks, Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who was accompanied to the MoU signing by the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Phillip Shaibu and Godwin Dudu-Orumen, Chairman of the Edo State Sports Commission, thanked the Sports Ministry for deeming Edo State worthy of hosting the festival.