Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, has revealed that the Federal Government will host the 19th National Sports Festival in Abuja next year following Cross River State’s inability to host the event.
The 18th edition of the National Sports Festival was held in Lagos in 2012 with Cross River getting the rights to host the 19th edition in 2014. But the competition has suffered several postponements, as Cross River could not muster enough resources to convene the festival.
Dalung told journalists aboard an Arik airline flight from Ndola, Zambia, to Abuja on Sunday night that the Federal Government would host the event next year, as it held a strategic position in the country’s quest to climb out of the doldrums in international sports.
He said, “We were supposed to hold the festival two times before the last Olympics, as it would have helped us to discover quality talents that we would have trained for the competition. Now that it is obvious that Cross River has failed to come up with it, we will take it to Abuja next year.
“We would have held it this year in Abuja, but it was difficult because we just hosted the National Youths Festival, another important event.”
He said it was unfortunate that after two funding raising events, Cross River still failed to hold the festival
“The question is: What did they do with the money realized from the two fund raising events?
“We are looking at hosting the festival in the second quarter of next year,” He said.
He also revealed that the Federal Government would no longer sponsor candidates to the federations’ elections, saying that the Sports Ministry was working to make the bodies more productive.
“We will leave elections into the federations to the stakeholders instead of imposing candidates on them. We are also going to ensure that only those who will work for the country get into the boards and not those there only to sell athletes.
“As we speak, we are aware that some people want to sell some of our upcoming talented athletes to Bahrain. Some of our athletes running for other countries were sold to those countries by federations’ members, who were elected to help develop Nigerian sports. That must stop,” Dalung said.