PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, Tuesday night, in Benin City, Edo State, insisted that the National Sports Festival (NSF) remains a major uniting force in Nigeria and urged participating athletes from the 36 states and the federal capital to ensure that they play by the rules of the game and not deviate from the dream of the founding fathers of the game which started shortly after the civil war.
Federal government of Nigeria has acknowledged sports as one of the bonds that unite the people despite numerous challenges bedeviling the country at the moment.
President Buhari stated this at the opening of the 20th National Sports Festival tagged Edo 2020 at the Samuel Ogbumudia International Stadium, Benin City, capital of Edo State South Southern Nigeria.
The National Sports Festival has a very unique history which is deeply rooted in the sad experience of the Nigerian civil war. The NSF is geared to bring our different people together to compete and find purpose in the bond that binds us together as brothers and sisters notwithstanding our different ethnic origin, gender, religion, and language.
The president represented by the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, commended the athletes for their faith in government to make the event happen.
“The National Sports Festival as you all know still remains the veritable tool for uniting our country, as well as bringing our young men and women to interact and compete.
“It also provides the avenue to discover talents for various sports that will represent the country in the global sports arena.”
“This is indeed in consonant with the aspiration of our founding fathers such as General Yakubu Gowon, late Major General Henry Adebokwe, late Brigadier Samuel Ogbemudia and others who initiated and bring this event to the limelight.” The president reiterated.
The opening ceremony of the 20th edition of the event held at the ultramodern Samuel Ogbemudia stadium was in grand style with different performances by cultural troupes showcasing the ancient cultural heritage of Nigerians and attended by representatives of each participating state.
President Buhari thanked the government and people of Edo State for keeping their promise of hosting the festival despite numerous challenges by the postponement which ought to hold almost a year ago.