The National Sports Festival today, Friday, kicked off in the nation’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, with the minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello receiving Festival Touch at the Abuja City gate.
More than 11,000 athletes and officials have since arrived in the Federal Capital and converged at the National Stadium, where the minister described the games as one of the three promoters of national unity.
He said that the ideals of the games symbolized the national unity and oneness, adding that the FCT is being represented in the games by over 470 athletes who would be competing in 27 events.
Musa Bello said that the restoration of the game after six years in limbo, bears eloquent testimony to the commitment of the Change Agenda of the President Muhammadu Buhari to youth development.
He said that the President is very dedicated to providing a platform where the talents of the youths and that capacity of all Nigerians would be harnessed.
The Minister said that the FCT Administration has invested heavily on infrastructure and public transportation, making it possible for athletes to move from one sports arena to another without encountering undue traffic gridlock.
Musa Bello said that the full the complement of the railway coaches would be arriving in a few weeks time to make the already completed stations operational, including the stadium station just within a walking distance from the national stadium.
The FCT Minister enjoined participants at the event as well as the officials to imbibe the spirit of fair play in all the proceedings, noting that what matters at the end of the day is the bonds of friendship across the regions and the platform for cooperation and collaboration which in the end would strengthen national unity.
Musa Bello called private sector investors as well as sports agencies and organized private sector to come and invest in Abuja, even as he assured that the FCT Administration is working to build a capital city that would showcase Nigeria to the world and make Abuja the capital city of sports in Africa.
He said such features as centrality, good weather and natural/manmade drainage systems all favour Abuja as the next best destination for sporting activities, including the best set of sports facilities in the country and an assortment of hotels and hospitality outfits that can take in a huge number of athletes and visitors for any global event.
The minister of Youth and Sports Development, Barrister Solomon Selcap Dalung, congratulated all the states for their support and commitment to the success of the National Festival through sending strong delegations. He noted that the games were being revived by the present administration because it appreciates the role of sports as a unifying factor in the country.
The opening ceremony attracted many dignitaries such as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Barrister Boss Mustapha, Ministers, and sports enthusiasts from across the country. With its contingents of 470, FCT parades the 4th largest team, coming behind Lagos, Delta and Bayelsa.