FG Postpones National Sports Festival For Fourth Time

The mascot of the National Sports Festival

 

The Federal Government has postponed the 20th National Sports Festival for the fourth time since its original date of March 21 to April 2020.

The event, which was scheduled to begin on February 14, was again shifted to a yet to be confirmed date in April 2021.

This decision was reached on Monday after the emergency meeting of the National Council on Sports convened by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, who is the chairman of the council.

In attendance were the commissioners of youth and sports from the states of the federation and directors of Sports.

The Deputy Governor of Edo state who is also the chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the “Edo 2020” games, Philip Shaibu was also present at the meeting.

Before the announcement of this current postponement, the Festival was fixed February 14th – 28th. This is the fourth postponement the games will be suffering since its original date of March 21st to April 1st 2020.

This recent postponement was occasioned by the second wave of the pandemic and the paucity of funds.

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The Edo Govt had requested for financial support due to the cost implications it suffered arising from the postponement. The accommodation prepared at the University of Benin was no longer available for the Athletes because students are back to school.

Rising from the meeting of the National Council on Sports, the Council resolved that it was best to shift the festival to a later date due to financial challenges raised by the host state and accommodation problems at the University of Benin.

According to the resolution of the council, the Federal Government, Edo State and the Council on Sports agreed that the festival will now hold in April since the earlier February date was no longer feasible.

The Minister provided more explanation on the postponement.

“We have seen the Sports Festival postponed three times. As we speak now, most of us should have arrived Edo state getting ready for February 14, to start the Edo 2020 Sports Festival,” he said.

“But flowing from our last meeting a few things came up. There was an undertone that the postponements have occasioned some financial difficulties and strains on the host state, and I dare say even on our part as the Ministry the postponements have also occasioned some financial difficulties.

“On the strength of this similar experience myself, His Excellency the Governor and also Deputy Governor have bounced Ideas, the conversation, back and forth. Of course, when December came, we know that almost everything stopped but it was agreed that it was important to approach the Federal Government for financial support.

“I’m glad to report that the Federal Government is favourably disposed to assisting Edo State to host the Festival. In the next few days, we hope to push through the document through the Ministry of Finance to get the financial support to get the festival on track. The February 14th date was not cast in stone as we wanted to avoid another postponement. But we must agree that the February  14th date is no longer feasible.

“The importance of the Festival cannot be overemphasized. The idea of not holding the Festival should be thrown out completely. It is an Olympics year; it would help shape the athletes for the Olympics.”

On his part, the Edo Deputy Governor said: “I agree the festival should hold before the Olympics to get our athletes fit and to secure points they require for the Olympics. Every postponement goes with a cost, but we are totally committed to hosting the festival. We are very expectant of the support of the Federal Government to make the festival a reality.”

The National Council on Sports did not provide an exact date in April when the games will take place and that confirms the growing uncertainty and harsh reality of Covid-19 pandemic on sporting activities in Nigeria.

Again, 2020 National Sports Festival Gets New Date

President Muhammadu Buhari with the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, and Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on January 30, 2020.

 

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has approved January 3-17, 2021 for the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival tagged Edo 2020.

The new date was agreed during a virtual meeting on Thursday, convened by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, which reviewed circumstances around the recent rescheduling of the sporting event.

The new date is to allow the PTF, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Edo State Government and the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to complete the necessary steps and processes, as assigned, to ensure a hitch-free Festival and also achieve the deployment of rapid diagnostic test kits for over 11,000 athletes.

READ ALSO: Tokyo Olympics Test Events To Resume In March

The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is hoping this shift will be the last the event will suffer and called on all those involved to ensure the requirements are achieved so the games can happen next year.

The virtual meeting had in attendance the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, PTF National Coordinator – Dr. Sani Aliyu, PTF’s Deputy National Incident Manager/ Head of Operations – Dr Assad Hassan, Representatives of NCDC, amongst others.

Edo 2020 was originally scheduled for March 21st – April 1st but was postponed two days to its commencement due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Edo 2020: National Sports Festival To Begin On December 3

President Muhammadu Buhari with the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, and Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on January 30, 2020.

 

The National Council on Sports has given approval for the 20th National Sports Festival tagged Edo 2020 to hold from December 3rd to 8th in Benin City, Edo State.

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, who is the Chairman of Council assured that all the guiding protocols of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID – 19 will be fully implemented.

He said that the required infrastructure has been achieved as confirmed by the National Assembly’s inspection visit to the state.

Corroborating the views of the minister, the deputy governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu who was present at the meeting in Asaba, re-affirmed the state’s commitment and readiness to conduct daily testing of COVID-19 for all athletes and officials who will attend the competition.

“It is indeed heart-warming that the long-awaited NSF is holding this year 2020  as jointly approved the National Council on Sports, today in Asaba,” Shaibu stated.

The council fixed December 3rd for the opening of the games village. The first phase of arrival will be December 3-4, 2020 while the opening ceremony will be done on December 5.

Competition days phase 1, comes up Dec. 6-10, break and arrivals for 2nd phase come up Friday, December 11.

Competition days for phase 2 will be done from Dec 12-16, the closing ceremony is scheduled for December 17 while the closure of Games Village will be done on December 18.

Obaseki, Shaibu Receive Certificates Of Return

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has issued certificates of return to Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and his deputy, Phillip Shaibu.

The National Commissioner, INEC in charge of Edo, Rivers, and Bayelsa, Mrs May Agbmuche-Mbu made the presentation on Tuesday at the INEC office in Aduwawa, Benin City, the Edo State capital.

She commended stakeholders particularly the security agencies for their role in the smooth conduct of the governorship poll.

Obaseki displays his certificate of return. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

“I hereby certify that Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been elected to the office of governor of Edo State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the election held on the 19th of September 2020,” Agbmuche-Mbu said while presenting the certificate to Obaseki.

READ ALSO: APC Congratulates Obaseki On His Re-Election

Governor Obaseki was returned elected by INEC after polling the highest number of votes in the keenly-contested election conducted on Saturday, September 19.

INEC Returning Officer for the poll, Professor Akpofure Rem-Rukeh, declared the governor as the winner on Sunday at the office of the electoral umpire in Benin City, which doubled as the final collation centre.

The governor secured 307,955 of the total votes, 84,336 more votes than his closest rival Ize-Iyamu, who got 223, 619 votes.

 

Obaseki Offers Olive Branch

Meanwhile, Godwin Obaseki offered an olive branch to leaders and members of the opposing party, All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.

Obaseki while giving an address after he received his certificate of return said the fight is over between him and his predecessor Adams Oshiomhole who is also the former Chairman of the APC.

He also called on the flagbearer of the APC, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and other members to join in the administration of the state and in moving Edo State forward.

Edo People Have Left A Legacy Of Efficiency – Bishop Kukah

 

The Catholic Bishop of the Sokoto Diocese, Reverend Bishop Mattew Kukah, has commended the people of Edo State for their conduct during the state’s governorship election on Saturday.

According to him, the people have left a legacy of efficiency which the entire country can emulate.

“The way they conducted themselves and I think in every sense of the word, they left us a legacy of efficiency,” he said on Tuesday during an interview on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily.

 

 

The bishop who is also a member of the National Peace Committee, also commended the Independent National Electoral Commission, security agencies and civil society groups for their roles in the election.

“We worked very closely with INEC and I must commend the INEC chairman for his incredible leadership, zeal and enthusiasm.

“The Inspector-General of Police kept to his word on the promises he made to the people of Edo State and to the peace committee.

“Our commendation also goes to the people of Edo State. I have received quite a lot of messages from old friends that I haven’t spoken to in a long time, commending the work of the National Peace Committee but really this is not an honour that one individual should take.

“It is the people of Edo State, the way they conducted themselves,” he said.

Read Also: Edo State Governorship Election: APC Congratulates Obaseki On His Re-Election

Speaking generally about the political atmosphere in other parts of the country, he lamented that Nigeria is currently not practicing a democracy.

“What we are practicing in Nigeria, it’s just theoretically we answer the name democracy but in reality, what we are dealing with is a feudal system that is tied to agencies and ideologies that have got nothing to do with a democracy.

“When last did you see a politician across Europe which we are trying to imitate go and bow to the queen or king or seek blessings from a bishop. We have too many intervening variables that are confusing the narrative.

“We are really not practicing the principles of democracy and it lies in the fact that only those who have money can hope to be voted into power.

“If you feel you need to be anointed to ascend to power then we are running a theocracy”.

TMG Rates Edo Election As ‘Largely Free And Fair’, Flags Incident Of Vote Buying

Earlier on at the Emokpae Model Primary School in Oredo Local Govt, security operatives and INEC officials try to organize voters who turned out in their numbers, waiting to vote.
File photo of voters at the Emokpae Model Primary School in Oredo Local Govt during the Edo State governorship election on Saturday, September 19, 2020. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun

 

Election observation groups – Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) and Edo Civil Society Organizations (EDOCSO) have rated the Edo State governorship election as largely ‘free and fair.’

The group, however, flagged incidences of voter inducement across the 18 local governments in the state by the groups.

“The two major political parties, APC and PDP were involved and trying to outdo each other in voter inducement with suspected party leaders glaringly seen sharing money to a group of voters mostly women in many polling units,” the groups said.

READ ALSO: Edo Election: Votes Buying Marred Polls, CDD Alleges

This was disclosed in their preliminary report released on Saturday and signed by the TMG Chairperson, Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi.

The group noted that despite the few lapses observed, the election was relatively well executed and largely free and fair.

They also cited impressive voters’ turnout, fair and adequate security, adequate election materials as some of the incidents that contributed to the success of the election.

 

 

See the full preliminary report below…

PRELIMINARY REPORT ON THE EDO STATE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION OF SEPTEMBER 19, 2020. RELEASED BY THE TRANSITION MONITORING GROUP (TMG).

Issued: September 19, 2020.

 

INTRODUCTION

This is the preliminary report by the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), and Edo Civil Society Organizations (EDOCSO), from the TMG/EDOCSO Election Observation Platform on the Governorship Elections of September 19, 2020.

This report is based on a preliminary assessment of the field reports by our observers, both regular and citizens. These observers were deployed to polling units across the 18 local government areas (LGAs) of Edo State to observe the Election Day processes.

 

Field Reports Summary:

  1. Voters turnout was impressive in most polling units across the 18-local government observed.
  2. Security was fairly adequate in most places. This provided the confidence that most voters required to come out to vote.
  3. The election processes in most places were peaceful and orderly.
  4. Election materials were generally adequate
  5. INEC Ad-hoc staff showed commitment and largely appeared well trained.
  6. There was not much compliance with Covid-19 protocols in terms of social distancing, use of face masks, and hand sanitizer in most polling units, although provision for hand sanitizer were made in many polling units.

 

ASSESSMENT OF INEC LOGISTICS EFFICIENCY.

A.There was a notable efficiency in INEC logistics, but some challenges were also noticed.

* Late arrival of election officials and materials in some polling units, resulting in late commencement of the election processes.

* Difficulties in the authentication of some registered voters due to the malfunctioning of smart card readers.

* Cases of voting irregularities – unaccredited voters, assisted voting through party agents.

 

VOTERS TURNOUT

Voter turnout was generally encouraging across the state, though it was low in some polling units observed by our field observers. Voters were observed to arrive at many polling units well ahead of opening time. This was witnessed across different polling units in the state. The patience and the tenacity of voters to vote and defend their votes was a general trend observed.

 

COUNTING AND RESULT DECLARATION AT THE POLLING UNITS

Vote counting and result declaration at the polling units generally proceeded without much hitches. Counting and sorting of ballots were done openly in the presence of party agents, security personnel, and election observers in most cases and the announced results were sent to the INEC portal and also displayed in conspicuous places for people to see. This enhances the credibility of the polls

 

VOTE BUYING AND OTHER ELECTORAL IRREGULARITIES OBSERVED

Incidences of voter inducement were noticed across the 18 local governments with the two major parties, APC and PDP involved and trying to outdo each other.  Suspected party leaders were glaringly sharing money to group of voters mostly women in many polling units. In some cases, some unscrupulous INEC officials and security agents were involved in the bribe saga at the polling units.

Some party agents were seen giving out money, food, wrappers, (clothe) face masks to voters at the polling centers.  Few Incidences of Illegal thump printing of ballot papers/stuffing and snatching were reported across many local government areas in the state. Pockets of electoral violence and intimidation were also noticed as a method of scaring away voters to disenfranchise them. Voters and security agents resisted in some instances.

 

 

COMPLIANCE WITH COVID-19 PROTOCOL

In most polling units visited, voters did not observe social distancing, many were allowed into various polling units without face masks. Cases of highest noncompliance with COVID-19 protocols were common in places where hundreds of voters voted in clustered polling units

 

CONCLUSION

TMG Election Observation Platform is of the preliminary opinion that the election was relatively well executed and largely free and fair. The lapses observed were consistent with our experiences in previous elections. Our final report, which will be issued later, will expand on some of the other issues observed.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

Signed by:

Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi

Chairperson, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG)

 

Edo 2020: We Are Expecting A Credible Election In The End – Police

 

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Research and Planning, Leye Oyebade, has said that the Force is optimistic that the outcome of the Edo Governorship election will be credible.

He said this on Saturday while addressing journalists as the voting exercise was going on.

According to him, the electorates were “enthusiastic” to vote because the Force had assured them of their safety as well as the credibility of the exercise.

“They are so enthusiastic and that is what democracy is about. It should be free, fair and it should be acceptable at the end of the day. What you have is policemen dominating but not intimidating,” Oyebade said.

This is the first major election organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the COVID-19 era and for the DIG, it goes beyond free, fair elections.

Read Also: Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu Win Polling Units As Counting Of Votes Commences

“We are also talking about safe elections because safety is key,” he said adding: “We have told them to use their facemask because of their safety”.

In terms of security, Oyebade explained that himself and his men were visiting voting centers and so far, the exercise had gone well.

“We have crossed all the T’s and dotted all the I’s so we are expecting a credible election at the end of the day,”.

How We Will Make Edo Election Results Available To Nigerians On Time – REC

 

 

The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Edo State, Johnson Alalibo, has assured Nigerians that they will be able to access the results of the Edo State Governorship election in good time.

He gave the assurance on Friday in an interview with Channels Television, just hours to the election in the state.

“We are going to snap the unit results and after snapping, it will be sent to the portal where so many Nigerians will view it live, on time, and real-time,” Alalibo explained.

According to him, this process is being facilitated by the Z Pad – a portal created for double authentication of the accreditation process.

“The Z Pad was to be used for two functions,” the REC explained, “one of which was to do double authentication of the accreditation process.”

“It was test run in the state constituency election in Nasarawa State but there were some hitches and we have been advised to test run those hitches before we run it again for this major state governorship election”.

Alalibo, however, noted “we are still maintaining the second flank of the use,” which according to him, is the ability for prompt access to the results.

Read Also: [Edo 2020] No Registered Voter Who Comes To The Polling Unit Before 2:30 pm Will Be Disenfranchised

After weeks of controversial campaigns and turn of events, the election is now set to hold with many hoping for a hitch-free exercise.

However, another issue which some fear may pose a threat to the election is the weather conditions. As with many other parts of the country, Edo State has witnessed heavy rainfalls in the last couple of days.

Asked if the rains will affect movement of materials to Polling Units, Alalibo expresed optimism that the exercise will not be affected as “all the materials were moved yesterday (Thursday) to the LGAs”.

For the COVID-19 guidelines, he explained that all voters must be present at their Polling Units with facemasks while also adhering to the other guidlines such as social distancing – a failure of which they would risk being allowed to vote.

This is the first major election organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission in the COVID-19 era.

Edo 2020: No Registered Voter Who Comes To The Polling Unit Before 2:30 pm Will Be Disenfranchised

 

The INEC National Commissioner for Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Festus Okoye, has said that as long as a registered voter comes to the Polling Unit before 2:30 pm they will be allowed to vote regardless of how long the process takes.

Okoye said this during an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today on Friday while explaining what steps the umpire has put in place to ensure a smooth run for the Edo governorship election which is set to hold Saturday.

“No registered voter who comes to the Polling Unit Tomorrow will be disenfranchised,” the INEC boss said.

This is the first major election organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission in the COVID-19 era and it is also the first time that a peace accord is being signed ahead of a governorship election.

“We are looking forward to tomorrow with cautious optimism,” Okoye said, adding: “we are confident that our message relating to voting in safety has permeated the nooks and crannies of Edo State.

According to him, the umpire has created sufficient awareness for the COVID-19 guidelines in the weeks leading up the election and anyone who does otherwise, will not be allowed to participate.

Read Also: We Have Enough Personnel, Appropriate Logistics To Make Edo Election Free, Fair – DIG

“We are confident that so many of the voters are already aware of the fact that if they come to the Polling Unit without a face mask or covering, they will not be allowed to vote.

“We have emphasized this over and over. “The first thing our voters are going to do is to apply the infrared thermometers that have been supplied to every Polling Unit on election day. Every voter will undergo that particular procedure of the use of infrared thermometers to check people’s temperature,” he said.

The exercise is expected to start for 8:30 am and according to Okoye, enough time will be given to allow everyone who arrives at the Polling Unit before 2:30 pm to vote.
“Polling will start at 8:30 in the morning. Why we have said this, is to enable our officials prepare well.

“Prior to this particular period, we didn’t have to pack hand sanitizers, methylated spirits and we didn’t have to pack facemasks for our officials but now we are going to be doing this and giving them some level of refresher course.

“Any voter who is on the outer queue by 2:30 pm will be allowed to vote even if the voting takes up to 5:00 pm but any voter who comes to the polling unit after 2:30 pm will not be allowed into the queue but those who are already there will be allowed to vote even if the voting takes up to 6:00 pm,”.

Edo Residents Hopeful Of Violence-Free Governorship Election

Residents of Edo State are hopeful of a violence-free election come Saturday, September 19, 2020. Photos Sodiq Adelakun

 

The residents of Edo State are hopeful of a violence-free election as they go to the poll to elect a governor for another four-year term.

Following the chains of violence recorded in parts of the state during the electioneering campaign period, the electorates insist that the exercise scheduled for September 19 would be peaceful.

Channels Television crew interviewed some of the residents during a tour of Benin City, the state capital on Friday – the eve of the Election Day.

They said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as well as the security agencies have assured them of adequate security and a peaceful exercise.

“Everywhere is secured; people are only giving the impression that the election will not take place, but the government has made all preparations intact.

“So, I don’t know why people will not come out to vote,” a resident, Rufus Arubiye, told Channels Television.

Another resident, Mrs Victoria Momojumo, believes adequate preparations have been put in place by the relevant authorities.

“Tomorrow, I am going to vote and I will vote for the right person I want,” said Victoria whose opinion was supported by Stanley Nduka who believes there will be calm and the election will be peaceful.

“I believe everything will be fine; I am going to vote but I won’t sell my conscience. We want a leader, not a ruler,” another resident, Juliet Osas, stated.

Although the atmosphere in Edo is relatively peaceful, residents flooded the streets in some parts of the state in what can be described as last-minute shopping before they go to the poll.

During a visit to some of the major markets in Benin City, many residents were seen stocking foodstuff while others bought non-food items.

 

 

Shops and food markets were fully opened for commercial activities as early as 8:30 am at the Second Circular Road and Upper Mission Road areas of the state capital.

 

 

While some anticipated the election day as they were unable to contain their excitement, signs of fear and worry were evident on the faces of others.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had fixed September 19 to conduct the election in all the 18 Local Government Areas (LGA) of the state.

At a press briefing in Abuja on February 6, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, noted that the tenure of the present administration in Edo would end on November 12, 2020.

According to him, the Electoral Act provides that the election cannot be conducted earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the tenure of an incumbent governor.

Five months later, the electoral umpire cleared the 12 candidates from various political parties to vie for the office of the governor.