Edo state government today, received the National Torch of Unity,heralding the commencement of the 2022 National Sports Festival as Edo Deputy Governor Rt Hon Comrade Philip Shaibu appeals to the Federal Government to redeem its pledge of N500M
reimbursement to Edo .

The Deputy Governor received the Unity Torch which made its last transit in Benin enroute Asaba the Festival host City at about 9:45 AM at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium,with the Executive Chairman of Edo state Sports Commission Olympian Yussuf Alli alongside the Permanent Secretary of the Commission Mrs Sabina Chikere on ground to bear the torch brought into Benin by a delegation led by the
Deputy Director of the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports who doubles as the Coordinator of Torch of Unity, Chief Amaka Ashiofu.

Comrade Shaibu in an address during the brief reception ceremony,welcomed the visitors to Benin on behalf of the state Governor Mr Godwin Obaseki.

“You are welcome to Edo State, the Heartbeat of Nigeria and the Host of the last edition of the Festival. We are happy to receive the Torch.”

“The purpose of establishing the sports Festival is to unite Nigeria after the civil war to encourage reintegration and forge national unity. We pray that during this period when we are having security issues, religious crises, and ethnic issues among other crises that as the Torch has gone over the country, the issues will become things of the past. And as we go to Delta, we pray that all the states that will be participating in this festival will go back to their various states with that Peace and Unity that we will share in the tournament.”

The Deputy Governor said: ” let me use this opportunity to remind the Ministry of Sports and Finance, and plead with them to help us remind the Federal government to pay Edo the pending N500M fund promised the state during the last Festival in Benin

“I want to through you to my brother, the Honorable Minister of Sports, and to my sister, the honorable Minister for Finance to remind you and appeal that the 500 million naira that the Federal Government agreed to pay because of the effects of COVID-19 and postponement .

We hosted the 2020 Sports Festival last year and up till now, we have not received the N500M the Federal Government pledged to pay us. We are using this medium as we pass this Torch of unity that Federal Government should please pay us. We need that money which was loaned to be paid back to us. We pray that they will understand and send the money back to Edo State government.”

“We will continue to interact and cooperate with the federal government, the honorable Minister for Youth and Sports on his agenda to transform Sports in Nigeria, even with the recent ten years Master Plan that he unfolded,we have already keyed into it so that our young children can live their dream of being champions of the world.”

Speaking earlier at the event, the Deputy Director of the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports who doubles as the Coordinator of ‘Torch of Unity,’ Chief Amaka Ashiofu emphasized that the Torch of Unity is to creat awareness about the purpose of the National Sports Festival which includes national orientation,integration and unity.

She thanked Edo State for joining other states in accepting to participate in the 21st Games which hold in Asaba,Delta state capital between November 28 and December 10.

“We are here to present the torch of Unity for the 21st National Sports Festival. This was flagged off on the 28th of October, 2022 by the President, Mohammadu Buhari and has since gone through the 36 states of the Federation before coming to the last host, Edo State. Now the torch is going to Asaba the host city.”

“This torch signifies Peace and Unity and when it enters each state and received,it shows their acceptance to participate in the National Sports Festival. Sports as we all know is a platform for peace and unity and that is why we are all here.”

Team Edo will depart the state for Asaba on Tuesday with a strong team of champions

Edo finished second behind Delta with 129 gold, 104 silver, and 108 bronze in the last edition hosted by Edo