Federal Capital Territory Could Host Next Edition of The National Sports Festival – Dalung (Audio)

The Minister of Youths and Sports Development Barrister Solomon Dalung says the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) could end up hosting the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival (NSF) in 2020 if prospective hosts show “any signal of failure”.

Speaking to the media at the National Stadium Abuja venue of the ongoing 19th NSF, Dalung said that four states – Edo, Cross River, Kaduna and Delta have all been spurred to express interest in hosting the 20th edition of the NSF in 2020 after the FCT stepped in to revive the Festival following a six year hiatus.

“Nigerians are not good in fighting for something but they are good in celebrating it,” Dalung said. “Now that the festival has come back there are so many hosts. [Right] now, I have about four applications already from prospective hosts. If I had requested for hosts before now, nobody would have indicated interest.”

One thing the Minister is keen to avoid is a repeat of the scenario that saw Cross River state fail to host the NSF in 2014 after being appointed hosts following the 2012 edition in Lagos. Dalung says the Ministry has created a framework and secured a partnership that ensures the NSF becomes an independent private sector driven concern completely immune to the vagaries of the politicalclimate and sundry interventions.

“One of the challenges which made Cross Rivers not to host was that the Governor who got the hosting rights was in his [final] days and handed over to a new person [who]could not pick up from there so we are looking forward not to make suchmistakes again.

“We have already put perfect arrangements including a private sector partnership (with Greenfield Assets LTD) and creating a Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV),incorporating a company that would drive the process,” Dalung said.

“So it’s no more going to be an issue of some bureaucrats sitting in the Ministry or some stategovernments trying to play the politics of the day. I am gradually trying toinstitutionalise [the National Sports Festival] and then removing those whoassume they can call the shots from it, so the National Sports Festival becomesan incorporated institution, it runs its affairs the Ministry maintains thepolicy, the private sector provides the funding.”

While the ministry is making moves to secure the future of the NSF, there are some observers who are of the view that with the NSF having found a home in the Federal Capital Territory, perhaps it is in the best interests of the championships to be staged permanently at the National Stadium. Dalung, however, says such fears while well-founded are the legacy of the six moribund years of the NSF and assures that the FCT remains a fallback option for the Festival the policy don’t work out with prospective hosts.

“In my village, there is an adage that says once you have been bitten by a snake, if you see a rope on the ground you will jump,” Dalung says.

“I mean six years of the abandoning of the National Festival is enough for people to feel that where [they] see it happening, keep it there. They are right but we are going to be very meticulous in the choice of the next host and we have what we call a reserve clause in the agreement in the case of any signal of failure we repossess the game and bring it to Abuja.”