Vice President, Arc Mohammed Namadi Sambo, on Tuesday, at the State House, Abuja, received on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan the ‘Torch of Unity’, signalling the official countdown to the forthcoming 18th National Sports Festival tagged ‘Eko 2012’ holding from November 27-December, 2012 in Lagos.
In his remarks, Vice President Sambo congratulated the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi whose state hosted the last edition of the games for successfully hosting the games, saying “I again congratulate the Rivers State government and the good people of Rivers State for successfully hosting the 17th edition of the Festival. I knew very well that they had a very big shoe to fill, because after that of Kaduna, we thought that the challenge is over, but what Rivers State did is highly commendable.”
Vice President Sambo, while handling over the torch to the Lagos state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, who is hosting the 18th edition of the Festival, noted that the success of the last edition of the National Sports Festival had left a very big shoe for Lagos State to fill, praying that “we will have a successful festival in Lagos”.
In his remarks, Governor Fashola of Lagos State, said that Lagos would host a championship befitting of the very proud heritage and history of the National Sports Festival, while also meeting the objectives of the festival not only in terms of bringing Nigerians closer, but also achieving talent development in sports and bringing harmony into sports, adding that all hands were on deck to meet the timeline set by the organising committee.
Governor Fashola used the opportunity to commend the people and government of Rivers State for a wonderful show, saying the successful hosting of the 17th edition posed a challenge to Lagos to put up a good show at Eko 2012 games.
The Minister of Sports, Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi presented the festival torch, which symbolises the unity and friendship engendered by the spirit of the sports festival to the Vice President who passed it on to the host Governor of the 18th edition, Babatunde Raji Fashola.
The National Sports Festival started in 1973, as a veritable instrument for National Unity, cohesion, peace, mutual understanding, friendship and cross-cultural affiliation. The objectives of the Festival are: Promotion of mass participation in amateur sports from the grassroots level as well as enhancing and strengthening unity through healthy competition amongst the competing states.
Present at the occasion were the Minister of Sports, Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi, the Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Ogiadomhe; the Deputy Chief of Staff, Alhaji M. K. Abubakar, and the Chairman of the Main Organising Committee (MOC) for ‘Eko 2012 and Director General of the National Sports Commission, Dr. Patrick Ekeji. Also present were Hon Bolaji Ojo-Oba, Mallam Alhassan Yakmut, the Secretary of the MOC, Mallam Abba Yola and other top government officials.