Minister of Sports Solomon Dalung

Abuja will host the 19th National Sports Festival if Cross River state is not ready.

That’s the indication from Nigeria’s Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung.

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The festival, which holds biennially, is used to discover talents for continental and international competitions.

But it has suffered many postponements in recent past. And it could yet suffer another setback.

A statement issued by the Minister said Cross River State government was not forthcoming with a date for the event.

Cross River seeks assistance

The Main Organizing Committee is requesting N650 million from the ministry to host the festival.

But the ministry is apparently not prepared to grant such request.

“We conveyed the National Council for Sports in Calabar and made several inspection tours of facilities to ensure that we hold the event this year.

“But it does appear to us in the ministry that we might be going back to Plan B.

“Our plan B is that, if Cross River state cannot host the event, we will come back to Abuja and host the National Sports Festival.

“We are determined because without the National Sports Festival, we cannot enrich the talents’ profile of our athletes for national and international competitions.

“We have succeeded in hosting the National Youth Games against all odds. And we will go back to our plan B if Cross River state relocates the burden of funding the games to the ministry.

“They have insisted that we provide as much as N650m for them to host the festival. If we had N650m, then why do we have to go to Calabar?” the statement quoted Dalung as asking.