The Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the ongoing National Sports Festival (NSF) says only a concrete commitment from the Federal Government will prevent it from shutting down the games on Friday.
LOC’s chairman and Deputy Governor of Edo, Philip Shaibu, said this when he addressed a press conference on Thursday in Benin.
“We may be shutting down the games from 12 noon on Friday, and this is not because Edo is not ready and not because the facilities are not there.
“You can see for yourself that we have the state-of-the-art facilities. They are in good shape and the athletes and officials are quite happy with what we have.
“And, for us, it is the love for the nation and our support and the synergy we have with the Federal Government that led to the continuation of this festival after several postponements occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We also had no reason to doubt the Federal Government on its plan to support the the 20th NSF with some funds after several postponements which had cost us a lot.
“But we are now tired of promises,” he said.
Shaibu pointed out that all the LOC had heard from the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development was that there was an approval.
He however lamented that the said approval has been without a specific amount, going by the communication they have had with the Federal ministry.
“In terms of commitment, we want to know what they are giving as a form of support. It should be a commitment we can take anywhere, which says specifically what is coming and when.
“We have been relying on promises that there is an approval. But we don’t know what kind of approval.
“The commitment should be in the form of what they are giving, or a promissory note we can take to the banks,” the LOC chairman added.
He contended that the move to shut down the festival on Thursday was not a threat to arm-twist any body or the Federal Government.
“Our plan to shut down the festival was not just a threat and neither was it to blackmail anybody.
“Now that we have changed it to shutting down the secretariat of the festival’s Main Organising Committee (MOC) This (Thursday) afternoon, it is not just a threat but a way of crying out that there has been a breach of trust.
“The (food) vendors we entered agreement into following Federal Government’s commitment to assist us with funds are threatening to shut us down.
“As a matter of fact, some shut down their services yesterday (Wednesday) and if the situation remains like this, we will be left with no option than to shut down the games in order not to put the athletes and officials under unnecessary pressure.
“Right now, our caterers have threatened to stop their services and we can no longer feed the athletes.
“For now, we will shut down the MOC at noon (Thursday), while the game’s will continue until noon tomorrow (Friday) when we will shut down the game’s totally if we don’t receive the necessary commitment.
“All we want is a commitment we can take anywhere,” the Edo Deputy Governor said.(NAN)