Nigeria’s sports minister, Solomon Dalung has explained why the ministry gave the hosting right for the next National Sports Festival to Edo State.
He said that he did not want a repetition of what happened after the hosting of the 2012 festival in Lagos.
“The hosting right was given to Cross River State when they were going into the 2015 election year. The Governor of the state acquired the hosting right which he handed over to a new governor who didn’t consider the right to be as important as the man who got it.
“I needed to ensure that what happened to the 19th edition whereby it was postponed for six years didn’t happen again. I decided that the next National Sports Festival will go to a state where there will be no election in 2019.
“If you give the hosting rights to a governor who will hold elections in 2019, he will collect it and go to campaign, so nothing will happen until after the election.
“If he wins or loses, the process of inspection, infrastructural update and regular meetings by the Council of Sports will be put on hold until after elections.
Dalung also debunked allegations that the hosting right was given to Edo State based on sentiments.
“If the selection was based on political sentiments, I would have given it to Gov. El Rufai of Kaduna State but he has elections in 2019 just like Gov. Okowa.
“If it was an APC agenda, I would have given it to Gov Rochas Okorocha but he is a terminal governor. He may collect the hosting rights and the in-coming governor may not be interested in it so I decided that the state that will get the rights will have no election in 2019 so that he can concentrate on the National Sports Festival including budgeting for it”, Dalung said.
Edo State was announced as the next hosts for the 2020 edition where Delta, Imo, Cross River and Kaduna states showed interest.