Barring last-minute changes, the Edo State Government has concluded plans to shut down the ongoing 20th National Sports Festival (NSF), tagged Edo 2020, by 12 noon today over the refusal of the Federal Government to support the state with fund as promised.
The decision to take the drastic action, Nigerian Tribune gathered, was informed by the paucity of funds that has hit the hosting state which has expended so much money rebuilding the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, venue of the sports fiesta to international standard.
A project manager in the Media and Communication Sub-Committee for the games, Mr Musa Ebomhiana, who first disclosed the decision to shut down to newsmen late Wednesday night, added that the decision was taken after an emergency meeting of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), under the headship of the Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu.
“You can quote me; we just finished an emergency meeting of the LOC as I speak with you and we have decided to shut down the festival by 12 noon tomorrow (Thursday),” Ebomhiana said.
“The Federal Government has reneged on their promise of assisting the state with fund and for that, we are closing the festival,” he stressed.
Late on Wednesday night, the LOC issued an official statement where it threatened to abruptly close the fiesta by midday Thursday should the Federal Government fail to honour its earlier promise of financial assistance.
The statement reads: “The Local Organising Committee, Edo2020 regrets to announce that it will end the games abruptly tomorrow, Thursday, April 8, 2021 for lack of funds. Rising from an emergency meeting this evening, the LOC says it has to take this hard decision due to lack of funds having expended its reserves to kick start the games. Regrettably, the FG is yet to redeem its pledge to support us as the host state financially for the cost of postponements. So, we are left with no option but to end the games at noon tomorrow.”
The state government had counted so much on the financial assistance expected from the Federal Government, a common practice in the previous editions of the Festival.
Edo State Government, it would also be recalled, had hinged its hosting of the fiesta on its solicited support from the Federal Government.
The financial fortunes of the state equally got dwindled following the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2010, thus necessitating the 20th NSF to be postponed on a number of occasions, before it finally kicked off on April 2, and is expected to last till April 14.