By Ushang Ewa
Nigeria’s sports minister, Solomon Dalung, Tuesday said that the federal government still hopes Cross River State will host the 19th edition of the National Sports Festival (NSF) despite delays in hosting the event slated for November 2014.
Dalung’s Special Adviser on Media, Nneka Ikem-Anibeze told The Guardian that the ministry is still waiting on the Council of Directors of Sports in the country to meet and come up with a date and other recommendations.
“For now, we are hoping that the government of Cross River State will still host the National Sports Festival this year,” Ikem-Anibeze told The Guardian. “But the Council of Directors of Sports will have to meet and come up with a recommendation on when the festival will take place,” she added.
Dalung had in 2016, said the NSF will hold in the first quarter of 2017 in Abuja. But, Ikem-Anibeze said; “There are other states willing to host the National Sports, but we have to get a clear picture from Cross River State. But as I said, one major factor that is delaying the fiesta is the meeting of the Council of Directors of Sports.”
But, the Cross River State government denied it had lost the hosting rights for the 19th NSF with the sports commissioner, Asu Okang telling CrossRiverWatch the event will hold in 2017.
But, a Director of Sports in one of the South-South states told The Guardian yesterday (Tuesday) that the ministry was only looking for a flimsy excuse, pointing out that; “It is the duty of the sports ministry to call for the National Council of Directors of Sports meeting because they have to provide the fund.”
CrossRiverWatch had reported that among the several excuses given by the Cross River State government, Dalung was angry the state requested the federal government through the sports ministry to give it NGN650 million to enable it put finishing touches to its preparations.
Across Calabar, the Cross River State capital, the project sites for sports facilities are all abandoned with a former consultant to the state, Engineer Edem Ekpenyong telling CrossRiverWatch that work was over 65 percent completed in all the facilities.