The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung has identified misplacement of priorities as the reason states are unable to host the National Sports Festival, NSF.
Dalung stated this while answering reporters, questions on the sidelines of the Opening Ceremony of the 19th National Sports Festival (NSF) at the Abuja National Stadium on Thursday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the last time the event was held was in 2012, when it was hosted by Lagos State.
Since then, state governors have been reluctant to table a bid for the sports fiesta that was instituted by the General Yakubu Gowon administration in 1973.
The 19th edition of the festival was last bidded for by Cross River State, but the state later pulled out citing lack of funds.
“The foot-dragging of states in hosting the event is informed by their funding challenges. However, the funding challenges are as a result of states not getting their priorities right.
“There is nothing as worthy of investment as the National Sports Festival.
“Whatever we are investing in, whether infrastructure or the economy, sports is the institution that supports the unity required for those investments to flourish,” Dalung said.
The minister also stated that the festival’s importance as a legacy project informed his ministry’s decision to fund and host it in Abuja.
“It was our intension to ensure that we revive one of our national legacies, which the NSF is. It is symbolic of our unity, along with the NYSC and the FCT.
“Abandoning it for that long was a disservice and we hope once it regains consistency, the private sector will come in to support us,” Dalung stated.
NAN reports that 7227 athletes, 710 coaches and 322 other officials are participating in the 2018 NSF.
Athletes will complete for honours in 37 sports from Dec. 6 to Dec. 16 when the 10-day tournament will end.