By Taofeek Lawal
Contrary to insinuations that the 19th National Sports Festival earlier scheduled to hold in Calabar, Cross River State later this month was postponed because of impending political campaigns, Director General of the National Sports Commission, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye has explained the reasons for the shift in date.
Speaking in Calabar shortly after the Joint Technical meeting of the Main Organising Committee (MOC), the Local Organising Committee (LOC), and the Directors of Sports of the 36 states sports councils and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Hon. Elegbeleye disclosed that the festival had to be moved not necessarily because the facilities were not ready but because of the none readiness of most of the states.
According to the Director General even if the facilities were all in place for the biennial festival, most of the states were not ready as they had not even registered their athletes by numbers while the National Sports Commission, on its own, was also not prepared following the loaded programmes it was involved in during the year.
“I cannot say the festival was postponed mainly because the host state was not ready with the facilities. We all, the states as well as the National Sports Commission were not ready. Most of the states had not registered their athletes by numbers while the National Sports Commission was also not ready following the number of programmes we were engage in this year. The zonal qualifiers for the teams have also not been done either,” he disclosed.
Meanwhile, in a communiqué issued after the inspection of facilities conducted by the Sports Minister and Chairman, National Sports Commission, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, and the Deputy Governor of Cross River State, Efiok Cobham, the Joint Technical meeting noted “the disruption to the timely completion of facilities earmarked for the hosting of the 19th National Sports Festival, caused by unfavourable weather condition”.
It therefore “resolved to postpone the Opening Ceremony of the National Sports Festival from November 23, 2014 to the April 9, 2015 with the Closing Ceremony taking place on April 19, 2015,” and directed the MOC secretariat to adjust the timeline of activities for the Festival in line with the dates for approval by the MOC.
In the communiqué signed by Hon. Elegbeleye and Cobham who also doubles as chairmen of the MOC and LOC respectively, the Joint Technical meeting “acknowledged the personal commitment of the Cross River State Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke towards the hosting of a memorable “Paradise Games – Calabar 2015.”