By Ushang Ewa
Investigations by CrossRiverWatch reveal that lack of funding has stalled the construction of sporting facilities for the 19th National Sports Festival, NAFEST which was scheduled to hold in Calabar the Cross River State Capital in November 2014.
The administration of former governor, Senator Liyel Imoke had in several fora claimed all the monies had been paid to contractors, which some contractors confided in CrossRiverWatch that it was not true, and even when the festival was postponed from November, 2014 to April and May 2015, over two months later, the facilities are not yet to be completed with no contractor currently working on site in all eleven projects spread around four locations.
A consultant with Sports Solutions who simply gave his name as Ekpenyong told our correspondent that the past administration meant well but funding stopped which led to the halt in construction.
Ekpenyong who gave the percentage of completion generally as over 65% described the idea behind the construction as “beyond the festival”. He also added that the projects had come out of the critical stages which actually took the bulk of the contract sum and what was left were “finishing touches”.
Efforts to get the comments of the Youth and Sports Development Ministry regarding the silence and the lull in activities were futile as our correspondent was twice kept waiting for several hours with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, who appealed that nothing should be published yet after the third visit saying “We are doing something about it as you can see these letters here are about it”.
Meanwhile some sportsmen who were making use of the facilities before construction work began while speaking with CrossRiverWatch on condition of anonymity lambasted the government for the stoppage of work and reiterated the urgent need to fix a new date for the games.
The games which were re-christened “Paradise City Games”, sources say may not hold anytime soon, as some people are said to have managed convince the incumbent governor, Senator Benedict Ayade to just keep the festival in view.