By Jonathan Ugbal
The 19th National Sports Festival earlier christened Centenary Games then Paradise City games may not hold in November 2016 as promised by the Cross River State Government as investigations by CrossRiverWatch reveal that with less than two months to the opening date, facilities are still not ready.
A highly placed source in the state ministry of sports told CrossRiverWatch that the games will not hold this year.
“We do not understand the Governor’s body language towards the festival. Most of the dates and timelines that we were suppose to meet passed with nothing happening and the Governor has not released money for events. I am not sure the games will hold this year” the source said.
Findings by CrossRiverWatch also reveals that contractors have not been to site for almost 2 years with only finishing touches left in most of the facilities scattered around three locations namely; The U. J Esuene sports stadium, the main campus of the Cross River State University of Technology and the Calabar Sports Club in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
This is despite the directive given by the Governor in August that all contractors should return to site and complete their projects. He claimed that all have been paid at least 70 percent of the entire contract sum.
The facilities which sports consultant Edem told CrossRiverWatch were 60 percent ready with all materials in place to be installed have been left unattended with the security officials once posted there no longer visible. Also, the constructing firms and their staff have not visited site for almost a year now a source said.
The games were billed for November 2014 with CrossRiverWatch reporting that the facilities were not ready which the state government denied and the main organizing committee claiming the delay was due to the delay in compilation of athletes names and other technical issues.
The games were then postponed to early 2015 which were then overshadowed by the general elections and did not hold as scheduled. The National Sports Commission later said the games will hold towards the end of 2015 after the All Africa Games which passed and nothing happened.
In January 2016, the Sports Commissioner, Asu Okang told CrossRiverWatch that the games will hold in the second quarter of 2016 before the head of the Cross State Sports Commission, Orok Duke told the House of Assembly that the state is working towards hosting the games at the last quarter of 2016.
As at press time, no information regarding the planning of the games as no meeting of the Local Organizing Committee has being summoned and with less than 105 days left to January 1, 2017 it is unclear what fate holds for the sports festival.
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