BENIN CITY – Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo missed the official opening of the 20th National Sports Festival in Benin due to the storm at the city’s airport, Edo’s Gov. Godwin Obaseki said on Tuesday.
Obaseki, in his address at Tuesday’s opening ceremony of the festival tagged “Edo 2020”, said the vice-president tried to be at the venue of the event.
“But his plane had to be diverted due to the bad weather,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that an afternoon downpour delayed the commencement of the ceremony, which was later held amidst colourful cultural presentations by several artistes and troupes.
Obaseki, however, commended Osinbajo for finding time out of his busy schedule, even though, he could not finally make it.
NAN reports that Osinbajo was due to stand in for President Muhammadu Buhari at the event which marked the opening of the April 2 to April 14 competition.
“We are grateful, for he has taken time out his busy schedule to be here with us this evening even though he could not finally make it.
“He is a friend of Edo and we appreciate this gesture,” Obaseki said.
However, in the absence of Vice-President Osinbajo, Sunday Dare, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, stood in to deliver President Buhari’s message to the festival.
He described the festival as an avenue to showcases Nigeria’s best talents in over 32 different sports events.
“The NSF is the biggest sports fiesta in the country, where both professionals and home-based athletes converge to display their prowess.
“Although the 20th National Sports Festival is supposed to have taken place one year ago, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it suffered several postponements.
“However, the determination of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that youths were engaged productively through sports, is notable.
“So also are the doggedness of the Edo Government to host the festival and the unwavering commitment of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
“Now, we are glad today that we finally are having the festival. It is indeed a befitting festival,” the president said.
He commended the young athletes who have converged in Benin for the competition, saying the festival remained one of the veritable tools for uniting the country.
“The NSF is also a tool to bring our young men and women to interact, to make friends, to compete and it also provides an avenue to discover talents in various sports who will represent the country in the global sports arena.
“I therefore thank the government and people of Edo for keeping their promise of hosting the festival in spite of the numerous challenges brought about by the postponement which occurred almost a year ago.
“The investment made in sports infrastructure and allied structures by the Edo government signposts the direction our sports development must take in Nigeria.
“No doubt, an investment in both our both men and women and sports infrastructure is most desired.”