BY TONY UBANI

Director General, National Sports Commission, Dr Patrick Ekeji has commended President Goodluck Jonathan for his support to raise the standard of the National Sports Festival.

The president, while declaring the 17th edition of the festival open in Port Harcourt on Sunday,  pledged N45 million for the best three states in the tournament.

“The National Sports Commission feel challenged with Mr President’s incentive,” Dr Ekeji said. “Mr President has shown once again that he is ready to drive sports in Nigeria to an enviable height. For the president to have come to declare the games open is also an indication that we are witnessing a new dawn in Nigeria’s sports.

“We are happy that Rivers State has set the pace now and we can’t afford to lower the standard as the NSC will continue to encourage states willing to host the games to aim for the best.

“The introduction of the money incentive to the best three states by Mr President will be the catalyst that will revolutionise the sports festival as states will now put everything into their preparation to win the President’s prizes.”

The Director General who initiated the concept of Team Nigeria in 2003 revealed that the moribund body would be looked into soonest to engineer the process of achieving the dream of the Federal Government to make Nigeria an economic and political power in the world before 2020.

“With the new challenge from Mr President, the NSC will quickly have a look at the Team Nigeria document again with a view to fine-tuning it. Yes, I can say that Team Nigeria will be back, better and stronger than what it was in 2003.”

Ekeji also disclosed that he has gotten approval from the Government to immediately start preparations for the All Africa Games in Maputo insisting that all the athletes will embark on a training tour to Germany, USA, Cuba and South Korea.

“We have put everything in place to enhance better performance at the All Africa Games. The athletes will go on training tour by the end of the month and the Government has been supportive of all we are doing. There won’t be late release of funds this time because our mission in Maputo is to win the Games irrespective of the antics of South Africa.”

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