The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung, on Tuesday in Abuja inaugurated the Main Organising Committee (MOC) for the 20th National Sports Festival (NSF) tagged “Edo 2020’’.
While inaugurating the committee, Dalung said the decision to grant Edo the hosting right was borne out of strategic thinking and the commitment already shown by the state’s government and people.
“Edo won the hosting right after a competitive bidding process. We didn’t want to drag our feet again and we wanted to avoid the delays that characterised the 19th NSF.
“The state showed commitment, evident in the Governor’s presence at both the opening and closing ceremonies of the 19th NSF, as well as during the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony.
“We also didn’t want the 2019 political transition to negatively affect preparations for the Festival. Thus the choice of Edo was strategic as the state doesn’t have any political transition in 2019,” he said.
Edo was named the 2020 hosts of the NSF during the closing ceremony of the 19th NSF in December in Abuja.
The 19th edition was held after six years of delays and postponements, and Dalung said it was out of the need to avoid such that his ministry decided to be steadfast.
“If we don’t inaugurate this committee now and allow it to go to work, it may not be done till June, July or August. So, what time will it have to work?”
Dalung urged the MOC members to commit themselves to delivering a successful NSF in 2020 and be mindful of the peace and unity of Nigeria while going about their responsibilities.
The minister also called on the private sector to support sports development in Nigeria, especially the NSF, which he referred to as one of the core symbols of Nigeria’s unity.
The MOC Chairman, Olusade Adesola, in his acceptance speech, assured that the members would work tirelessly to deliver on their mandate.
Adesola who is also the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, said the MOC members accepted the task with humility and a sense of responsibility,
“Although the task before us is enormous, we promise that we will make sure we work round the clock to deliver a 2020 NSF which will surpass the 2018 edition,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary pointed out that majority of members of the MOC was also part of the 2018 Festival.
He then urged the members to dedicate themselves and double their efforts for a greater result in 2020.
The 17-man MOC has the Edo Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, as its vice-chairman, while Hauwa Kulu-Akinyemi, the ministry’s Director of Planning, Monitoring and Information, is the MOC secretary.
The MOC also has the Chairman Edo State Sports Commission; President, Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC); President, Paralympic Committee of Nigeria; Director, Grassroots Sports Development; and Director, Federations and Elite Athletes Department.
Other members are the Director, Facilities and Stadia Management; Director, Sports Medicine; Director, Finance and Accounts; Director of Press; Director, Human Resources Management; and Director, National Institute for Sports (NIS).
The rest are the Head, Legal Unit; Chairman, Committee of States’ Directors of Sports; a representative of the Minister; and the Director of Sports, Edo State Sports Commission.
The Edo Director of Sports will serve as the committee’s Assistant Secretary.
The 2020 NSF is scheduled to hold from March 22 to April 1 in Benin City, to make it the third time the event was being held in the ancient city.
Edo had hosted two previous editions of the NSF, the first being the one held in the old Bendel State in 1981 and the second being the 2002 edition. (NAN)