National Sports Festival: Dalung meets Buhari, seeks N1.3bn

..Wants presidential intervention over WADA threat
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja

Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung on Monday met with President Muhammadu Buhari, to seek his intervention in providing the N1.3 billion needed for hosting the National Sports Festival in Abuja next month.

FANTASTIC … Rivers State athlete, Miss Esiekpe Young, flying over the bar during High Jump event at the 18th National Sports Festival in 2013 at National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos. Photo by: Kehinde Gbadamosi

The minister also appealed to the President to interface with the leadership of the National Assembly on the quick passage of the anti-doping bill which has been pending in the two chambers of the parliament to avoid the ban from the World Anti Doping Agency, WADA.

WADA had last week written threatened to ban Nigeria if she failed to establish independent anti-doping agency.

Briefing State House correspondents after meeting with the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Dalung explained that the fate of the festival, which was scheduled to start on the 6th of December, now hangs in the balance after the initial private sector partner, which was supposed to contribute N400 million of the budget, backed out and left government with no option but to provide more than its own N900 million contribution.

The Minister said he asked President Buhari to quickly intervene to make the Federal Government provide the funds to ensure the successful hosting of the national sports fiesta, which had not been held in the past six years.

Dalung also sought Buhari’s intervention in the 21-day ultimate by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to sanction Nigeria over her inability to have an independent national anti-doping agency devoid of government interference, and for regular random dope tests on Nigerians sportsmen and women.

The Minister noted that while Nigeria has not been found wanting in cheating with drugs, the process of converting the anti-doping agency under the presidency would require a quick interface between the President and the National Assembly to have the appropriate legislation in place.

Dalung warned that if WADA sanctions or delists Nigeria, sports in Nigeria will be grounded as no national sports association will be allowed to participate in global tournaments.

He expressed the confidence that with his meeting the president over these issues, a quick resolution would be found to ensure bigger development of sports in the country.

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