The minister of Youths and Sports Development, Barr Solomon Dalung has stated the reason why Calabar could not host the National Sports Festival in 2014.
Calabar was chosen as the host for the biennial competition after the formal conclusion of the Lagos edition in 2012.
He made this known during a chat with reporters at the City Gate, Abuja during the reception for the Torch of Unity to herald the 19th National Sports Festival.
“When Calabar was unable to host, we had to extend the benefit of doubt and see whether they would be able to host.
“But when it was beyond doubt that the lacked the capacity to host, we had to summon a national council of sports which decided that since it’s the Federal Government that owned the Festival, it should repossess it and ensure its stabilised before it can start moving round,” he said.
He further reiterated that the FCT will gain economically from the 10 days competition.
“No host city in the world has hosted sports festival and does not declare excess. For Abuja, it is going to be economic transformation. The national sports festival is one of the legacies of our national unity.
“It will be a boost to our efforts to entrench national integration and unity in Nigeria,” he said.
In the same vein, he revealed that two states which he declined to mention them have indicated interest to host the next edition of the Festival.
“We have received two applications from 2 states who have indicated interest and have provided guaranty they will host the next edition. The council on sports will look at it,” he stated.
Speaking further, Dalung said he is confident that the Festival won’t fade into oblivion. He revealed that plans were in place to ensure that the Festival holds every 2 years.
“After the resolution of the national council of sports, we decided to come back and think outside the box and in doing that, we felt that engaging the private sector, it will go a long mitigating against some of these challenges.
“After this edition, there is going to be series of mobilisation, going round to educate people, road shows discussing these issues before getting to the Games proper,” he revealed.
He however urged the states in the federation to see the National Sports Festival as a national asset, not as federal government project. He further urged them to develop institutions at the state levels to protect these national values.