By ALEX MONYE.THE SUN. NOVEMBER 28,2012
The 18th edition of the National Sports Festival tagged Eko 2012 kicked off yesterday with fanfare at the main bowl of the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos. Vice president, Namadi Sambo, who declared the prestigious event open, enthused that the objective of the festival was to foster national unity and discover talents who would represent the country in future international engagements.
With a view to motivating the participating states to give their best at the event that opened amid glitz and glamour, Sambo, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan, pledged a cash gift of N20m for any state that comes first, N15m for the second runner up and N10m for the third runner up. “I am highly delighted to be a part of the opening ceremony of the 18th Sports Festival in Lagos.
The main objective of this Festival is to foster national unity in the country and also discover talents that will be nurtured to represent the country in future international competitions,” he enthused. “Over the years, the Festival has achieved this target. You are aware that the Federal Government had a retreat to reform sports in the country. So, I can assure you that the recommendations of the retreat will be carried out to enhance sports development in the country,” he added.
I advise the athletes to stay away from performance- enhancing drugs and give their best to excel in the Festival. The officials should also be fair in officiating the games. “On behalf of the Federal Government, I pledge cash gifts of 20 million naira for the best state, 15 million naira for the second best state and 10 million naira for the third best state,” he said. He, however, assured of government’s support to Nigerian sports development.
Also, Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, declared that government was putting structures in place to ensure that athletes discovered were well trained to meet global challenges. According to him, Nigeria’s poor performance in the last Olympic Games in London was the major reason government was playing serious role in the Festival. “I ‘ve inspected the facilities in Lagos and can say that the state is fully ready for the Festival.
Based on our poor performance in the London Olympics, it has become important that this sports festival will be used to discover talents that will restore Nigeria’s glory in sports. “Government has realised that grassroots sports development is the solution to the sports crisis.
The Festival’s key objective is to foster friendship and discover talents in the country. We have also made a way for Nigerians living abroad to come to the country and participate in the Festival.”