Directors to meet soon on National Sports Festival
Cross River State may not have been ruled out of the hosting of the 19th National Sports Festival, if words by Nneka Ikem-Anibeze, Special Adviser to the Sports Minister Solomon Dalung, are anything to go by.
Former Governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke had fixed November 2014 for the fiesta, which he tagged ‘The Centenary Games’ to commemorate Nigeria’s 100 years. It was also tagged the ‘Paradise Games.’
But after several postponements, the Sports Festival was scheduled for November 8-21, 2016 in Calabar, which also failed, following inability of Imoke’s successor, Governor Ben Ayade to provide the funds needed to host the fiesta.
Several meetings by Directors of Sports of the federation, as well as visits by sports ministry officials with officials of Cross River State also failed to yield positive results on when the 19th National Sports Festival will hold.
At a point last year, the Sports Minister, Dalung said the ministry was considering hosting the Festival in Abuja, because Cross River that won the rights since 2012 is not forthcoming with a date for the event.
However, his Special Adviser, Nneka Ikem-Anibeze revealed in a chat with The Guardian yesterday that Directors of Sports of the federation would meet soon to deliberate on way forward for the hosting of the 19th National Sports Festival.
“The sports festival will hold in the first quarter of this year, but the council of the Director of sports of the federation will have to decide the date and venue. They will meet soon and the outcome of the meeting will give a clearer picture on whether Cross River State government will still host the festival or not. All I can say is that the festival will surely hold this year,” Ikem-Anibeze stated.
Dalung had revealed last year that the Main Organizing Committee (MOC), for the festival was asking the sports ministry to provide the sum of N650m to host the fiesta in Calabar.
“They have insisted that we provide as much as N650m for them to host the festival. If we had N650m, then why do we have to go to Calabar? We might be going back to Plan B,” he said. “Our plan B is that if Cross River state cannot host the event, we will come back to Abuja and host the National Sports Festival. We are determined because without the National Sports Festival we cannot enrich the talents’ profile of our athletes for national and international competitions.”