The Edo State Government said the federal government was yet to redeem its pledge of financial support to the state for hosting the 20th National Sports Festival (NSF) tagged “Edo 2020.”
The festival’s Local Organising Committee (LOC) Chairman, Sixtus Omokhagbor, disclosed this in Benin on Thursday.
Mr Omokhagbor is an aide to the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu.
The festival was held from April 2 to April 14 in Benin, after several postponements.
Owing to the postponements, which were as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government had promised to support the Edo State Government with some funds.
The promise was further reinforced by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development midway into the festival when Edo threatened to shut down the event.
Meetings were hurriedly held between the LOC and the festival’s Main Organising Committee (MOC), which was headed by federal officials, to prevent an abrupt end of the festival.
The Edo State Government backed down as a result of several pleas.
The federal government was said to have pledged N500 million to the Edo State Government, for the festival.
The federal government, however, had not yet fulfilled the pledge till date.
Mr Omokhagbor said the Edo State Government could not understand what was delaying the fulfilment of the pledge.
“Everything we did then was based on understanding with the Federal Government, and the state government had to stretch itself beyond its financial capacity to ensure that the festival took place.
“Edo put in place the best of facilities and also made preparations for the festival before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in the postponement of the festival on three occasions.
“Then, a lot of funds had been expended before these postponements. It was in view of this that the Federal Government promised to support us to host the festival.
“It is, however, disappointing that about five months after the festival has successfully taken place, the state is yet to get anything from the Federal Government as promised,” he said.
Mr Omokhagbor added that when the state government inquired about the money, it was told that it was still being processed.
John Joshua-Akanji, a media aide of Sunday Dare, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, told NAN that the process of paying the money to the Edo State Government had commenced.
“It is being handled by the Presidency, and I know the process has commenced,” he said.