The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung, on Saturday said Nigerian leaders should bury their heads in shame for neglecting the National Sports Festival (NSF) for six years.
Dalung told newsmen at the Abuja National Stadium that Nigeria has lost a lot for failing to hold the competition since 2012 when the last edition took place in Lagos.
“The high rate of brisk business at the various venues of this 19th edition in Abuja is enough to tell the story.
“We can not continue to deny our youths the opportunity to achieve the goal as great athletes of their dreams.
“I am even challenging Inspector-General of Police to carry out a research and see how the crime rate would have been reduced drastically during this period when the NSF is ongoing.
“Governments at all levels are supposed to invest in sports to enable them arrest youth restiveness, and sports is a major tool that will ensure Nigeria greatness,” he said.
The minister therefore called on the private sector to join hands with government in holding future competitions, saying government alone cannot do it.
The NSF whose first edition was held in Lagos in 1973 had its longest absence between 2012 and 2018.
This followed Cross River’s failure to host the 19th edition in Calabar in 2014, after Lagos hosted the 18th edition in 2012.
The Federal Government, however, after several disappointments on the part of the Cross River State Government, stepped in to save the biennial event by offering to host the 19th edition in Abuja.