Abuja – Cheke Emmanuel, a sports stakeholder, on Sunday in Abuja urged less-endowed states to present joint hosting bids for future editions of the National Sports Festival (NSF).
Emmanuel, who is the Chairman of Nasarawa State chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), said that this was highly necessary now.
He spoke in reaction to a comment by Nneka Ikem-Anibeze, the Special Assistant (Media) to Solomon Dalung, the Minister of Youths and Sports Development.
She had said Abuja would host the NSF for 10 years, which was a reiteration of Dalung’s position that Abuja would sustain the hosting of the NSF for five consecutive editions.
He had said this would help to achieve stability before allowing states bid for the hosting rights.
However, Emmanuel while lauding the development said states who cannot host the festival alone should be offered the chance to jointly host it with other states.
“This will help to get the sports event closer to the grass roots and through it expose hidden talents,’’ he said.
Emmanuel however admitted that a realistic joint bid would require the political will of interested states and their willingness to agree to jointly host the event and share responsibilities.
“Having a joint bid is not impossible but states, especially neighbouring states, must have the capacity and the political will to make it happen.
“Also, such a step can be possible if the political leaders of such states are passionate about sports.
“With a joint bid, states will share responsibilities to make the event a successful one. The event must not be held by Abuja, Lagos, Rivers and other few big states alone. `
“Smaller states who cannot host it alone should still be given the opportunity to co-host with the other states so as to have the experience and other benefits that come along with hosting the NSF,” he said.
The Nasarawa State SWAN chairman noted that if joint hosting of the NSF was not embraced, there would be a problem.
“It will be difficult for states with less resources and inadequate sports structures to have the capacity to host the event on their own.
“Cross River was supposed to host it, but it could not meet up. But if Cross River and Rivers or Akwa Ibom agreed to co-host the festival, I am sure the responsibilities of hosting the event would not have been too much.
“I therefore call on the Federal Government to offer joint hosting opportunity to states. If that is done, I see Nasarawa State and Benue or Nasarawa and Plateau co-hosting.
“I also see Kogi and Kwara co-hosting, Cross River and Akwa Ibom co-hosting, and many more.
“This way the goal of national integration through the sports festival will remain intact,’’ he said.
Emmanuel also added that irrespective of how or which state host the festival, the Ministry of Youths and Sports Development needs the support and collaboration of partners and other stakeholders.
“The ministry needs support in ensuring that the festival is properly organised and
achieves its set goals,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the 19th edition of the NSF, which kicked off on Thursday in Abuja, is expected to end on Dec. 16.