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Cross River now ready to host sports festival


Chief Orok Duke

Cross River State government says it is now ready to host the National Sports Festival, which has suffered several postponements since 2014. Already, the state has lost over 60 per cent of its athletes to other states following accusation by the athletes that the present government is not having interest in sports.

Some of the athletes, who spoke with The Guardian in Calabar said: “Our colleagues are leaving to other states because this government does not show any interest in sports. You can imagine the secondary school games former Governor Imoke was doing, this Governor Ayade is not doing it and the international mountain race in Obudu has since been stopped by him.

“See the state was to host the National Sports Festival since 2014, but until now nothing has happened even when billions were spent on some uncompleted venues. Equipment ordered for the festival are rotting away in containers here at the stadium. Just last week, the state failed to participate in the National Youth Games in Ilorin. How do you think athletes will stay and just be training?”

However, the chairman of the Cross River State Sports Commission, Mr. Orok Duke, denied that claim that the governor does not love sports. He says, “We are still committed to sports and youths development despite the challenges. The state is ready to host the National Sports Festival. We can host the country if we want, especially now that we have finished the table tennis hall and we are working on wrestling, judo and others.”

On the athletes that left for other states, he said: “When we came on board, some of the athletes were being owed and they decided to move on. In terms of always having ready athletes to attend any competition, we have been doing that. Of course, we pay allowances and salaries to few athletes. Some have gone to more lucrative states, but those we have, we are still in our limited way taking care of them. Over 60 per cent of our athletes have moved.”

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