*‘They are being instigated,’ says Dep Gov’s Spokesman
Hundreds of athletes from Edo State on Friday protested against inadequate preparation for the National Sports Festival which is barely 28 days away and would be hosted by the state.
During the protest they blocked all access roads to the stadium chanting solidarity songs just as they disparaged the Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, whom they alleged did not receive them compassionately when they first went to Government House earlier in the day to lay their complaints.
One of the athletes, Osas Erahon said: “It is barely a month to the National Sports Festival and we are yet to commence camping we actually went to Government House yesterday (Friday) to seek an audience with the executive governor but it was to no avail. We want to know what is going on. We are supposed to have commenced camping by now. Edo 2002 we were in camp for over three months and we won a record 189 gold medals but now we are not preparing well so that is our own grievances. We want to win but we want to prepare very well to win but they undermining us.
“States like Delta, Ogun, Rivers and others have commenced camping since December last year and in Efo we are here yet we are the host. In addition, our coaches were made to sign an undertaken that their athletes must give them gold medals and they said they are also going to bring same for us to sign that we must win gold medals.
“The Deputy Governor told us yesterday that only gold medallists will be rewarded after the festival, where is it done? Now they have not put us in camp, no facilities to train and yet you want us to win gold for you.”
Another athlete, Momodu Kabiru said: “We went to Abuja the last time till date we were never received or rewarded and now we are supposed to host and win. All he promised in 2018 were not fulfilled not even a handshake, it has never been done in the history of sports in Edo State.”
A female athlete, Olufnke Susan said: “We have come this far, we have trained on our own, Delta State is wooing some of us to come and join them and we are neighbours. Our officials say we are on salaries and we should use our salary to train ourselves.”
When contacted, the Chief Press Secretary to Shaibu, Musa Ebomhiana denied the allegations against his boss. He said the allegation of winning gold was only a motivation for then to give their best just as he said the athletes were being instigated by officials in government.
He said the state government has prepared the camp for the athletes and would soon be resuming there for training.
He also said the government wants to avoid situations in the past where athletes were short-changed by officials of government and that that is why it has directed that they submit their biometrics so that whatever is due then would be paid directly to them and not thought a third party.