Sunday, 16 December 2018

National Sports Festival 2020: How Delta state planned to influence hosting bid

The National Sports Festival which started in the 1970's has reached its 19th edition with Abuja, FCT playing host to about 34 states who converged in the Federal Capital City after Zamfara and Ebonyi failed to partake in the National Sports fiesta. 

The bi-annual National sporting competition features about 40 different sports for states to compete in as the games,  according to the minister of sport, Barr Solomon Dalung, is one of the activities that unites Nigerians across states. 

In 2014 the hosting right of the Sport fiesta was given to Cross River State as to mark the nation's  100 years of existence after the 1914 almagamation of the Northern and Southern Protratorates. Cross River State beign the home of sports was honored with the privilege of hosting the games nick named centenary games. 

Unfortunately, due to some internal logicstical and political issues, the state could not host the games in 2014 and in 2016 even after she had pleaded with the federal government through the national lottery commission to assist it with a token of N500 million. The plea fell on deaf ears and again the state couldn't assemble lovers of sports in the Nation's Paradise. 

In 2018, for the love of the games and to ensure the Festival does not die a natural death in the hands of Cross River State. The Federal Government decided to host the fiesta in the nation's capital, after which states can now bid to host subsequent editions. 

Traditionally, states who had interest to bid for the hosting right indicated such interest by submitting their letter of interest during the Opening ceremony of the National Sports fiesta. 

The Governor of Edo state, Mr. Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki was on that first night of the game seen having a tête-à-tête with the minister of youths and sports, Barr Solomon Dalung, having indicated interest to host the fiesta, Cross River State again indicated interest to host the games with the chairman of the state's Sports Commission, Chief Otuekong Orok Duke delivering a letter from the state governor, Sen Prof. Ben Ayade to the minister. 

On Thursday 13th of December, the day set aside for presentation of interest, three states out of the five initial states that indicated interest were called upon. The trio of Edo, Delta and Cross River States were present with data and other necessary information to back up their presentation bid as they fought to convince the panel that their states is better prepared to host the nation. 

The presentation exercise which took place at the conference room of the National Stadium, Abuja saw journalist outside as they weren't allowed inside to witness the presentation. 

It was later rumoured that journalists weren't allowed inside the presentation room to avoid reporting any action or information related to bribery that later characterised the presentation exercise as Delta is alledgely said to have aside other documents presented a cheque amounting to about N20 Million. 

To crown it up the minister of youths and sports was later sited in a secret meeting with the governor of Delta state at Transcop Hilton Abuja on Saturday night at about 11: pm. 

One of the Cross River State contingents who went with his Chairman for the presentation exercise at the conference room of the National Stadium Abuja told our reporter in confidence that a delegate from Delta state who also came with the state sport boss, boasted that the two other states were just fulfilling righteousness as they had cemented everything needed to cement to win the bid. 

What seems confusing is why the hosting right of an event that promotes national unity will be reduced to such a ridicule for the highest bidder to take the day? With these, one will begin to question most of the judgements given by referees and umpires during the just concluded national sports festival. 

Although, while speaking with journalists, the Minister of Youth and Sports had insisted that sporting, infrastructure and facilities as well as security and other logistics will be the yardstick for wining the hosting right for the 2020 edition of the Sports fiesta. I just hope fat cheques does not constitute "other logistics" the panel will use in awarding the hosting right as it announce the next host of the games come 2020 during the Closing Ceremony of the 19th edition of the National Sports Festival come Sunday, 16th December 2018.

Ukorebi Esien blogs for Thedailynewsng were he tells the Nigerian story one article at a time