By Emma Jemegah, in Benin
Basking in the euphoria of the success of the opening of the National Sports Festival, Edo State Deputy Governor Comrade Phillip Shaibu has said that the festival is essentially an opportunity to re-launch the state’s rich sporting heritage.
Edo was noted for its unrivaled sporting facilities as well as producing some of the best sporting talents for the country including owning the famous Bendel Insurance that ruled the waves in the 1970s.
Speaking yesterday at the Conference Hall of the renovated Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, Shaibu said Edo is now on the path of sporting rebirth with first-class facilities across its landscape.
“Edo 2020 is not only about the National Sports Festival but this is a well-thought-out plan to restore our state back to the good old days when we dominated sports in Nigeria,” explained Shaibu who doubles as the Local Organising Committee(LOC) chairman for the ongoing NSF.
“We have invested so much in first-class facilities and not only here at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City but we have mini stadia spread across the 20 local governments and in some schools so that our youths can be encouraged to combine sports side-by-side with education.”
Shaibu said the state on the long run is looking at a solid public and private partnership initiative in order to sustain the legacy of the NSF.
He said: “Ultimately, it is our desire to ensure that we bring in private investment to our sports and we are being methodological about it because from our experience, the private people will only put money into sports if there’s a solid product.
“So, we are conscious of what we are doing and very soon the gains of this National Sports Festival would be there for all to see.”
Shaibu equally noted that it’s incumbent on subsequent governments of the state to follow on this part of rediscovery since virtually everything about the maintenance and sustainability of the facilities being used for the NSF will be backed by legislation.