Nigerian athletes won over 700 medals in various sporting activities in the last three and half years, Minister of Youth and Sport Development, Solomon Dalung, disclosed this Thursday in Benin during the extra-ordinary meeting of the National Council on Sports.
“In the past three years I took over as the sports administrator of the country, Nigeria has been able to win over 700 medals in various sporting competitions that we participated in and this is quite historic,” he said.
Dalung called on state governors to change their attitude towards sports development in the country by making budgetary provisions for athletes to ease the sufferings of the athletes and officials.
He lamented the experiences of some states sports directors during the 19th National Sports Festival in Abuja last December, saying most of them travelled to Abuja with the hope that money would be released for their contingents, but had to resort to an emergency fund-raiser before they could participate in the championship.
“I am still going back to the National Economic Council to address the governors on sports development in the country. If you bring high blood pressure testing machines here, most of the sports directors will have high blood pressure not because of their problems but because they had no money to take care of their athletes during competitions.
“During the Abuja sports festival, a sports director came with a contingent to compete in women sports; they didn’t have money and accommodation, they were sleeping under the staircase of the stadium and the team eventually won bronze,” he said. Dalung added that it was ironical that the same states who didn’t care about the welfare of their athletes, gave them a red carpet reception on their arrival from the Abuja NSF.
He added that it was time to move to the next level by doing the right things through the development of sports and proper budget for participation in competitions.
The sports minister commended the Edo State Government for winning the hosting rights for the 20th edition of the NSF and putting facilities on ground for the successful hosting of the competition.
On his part, the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, said his administration was building mini stadiums across the 18 local government areas of the state because sporting activities only thrived under standard facilities.
“Since we got the hosting rights, we have commenced the rebuilding of the Ogbe Stadium, including sporting facilities inside, building hostels, among others. We want to host the best National Sports Festival ever in the country,” Obaseki said.