For the second day running, Ekiti State athletes continued their protest over the uncertainty surrounding their participation at the 2018 National Sports Festival billed to begin in Abuja on Thursday.
The state government had yet to release funds for the athletes’ participation as at Tuesday, just two days to the commencement of the competition in Abuja, thus sparking fears that they might not compete at the festival.
The athletes, who locked the gates leading to the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium, Ado Ekiti, the state capital, chased out the state’s sports council officials from their offices and out of the stadium.
They accused the management of the sports council of not taking their welfare into consideration.
Ekiti athletes have not been formally camped for the Games, which also raised dark clouds over their trip to Abuja.
There are allegations that negotiations on the funds to be released by the state government started from ₦32 million to ₦19 million. They eventually agreed on ₦7 million, later the athletes were told that the state government only approved ₦2 million.
The General Manager of Ekiti State Sports Council, Deji Samo, however, claimed that the athletes were unruly.
He added that there was the likelihood that the athletes were being sponsored for personal interests.
“All I know is that we are going for the Games in Abuja and we will make the state proud,” Samo said.
Samo further dismissed the athletes’ allegations, saying, “We have sent our file to the governor. We are expecting his response.
“It is when we get approval for the funds that we will know how many of the athletes will go for the Games. We will like to go to the competition with our medal hopefuls. Because of funds, we had to put the athletes through open camping. They have been preparing,” Samo said.
About 150 athletes from Ekiti are billed to compete in 18 events but there have been mixed feelings over the state’s participation at the NSF in Abuja before now.
While the state’s sports administrators believe they will participate at the Games, many other stakeholders have been sceptical.