Edo State Athletes who won medals at the just-conluded National Sports Festival (NSF), staged a walk-out on Friday night at the grand reception party organised for Team Edo by the State Government.
An air of euphoria had filled the tennis court of the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium- venue of the reception ceremony until the governor Godwin Obaseki announced a seemingly unsatisfactory cash reward for the athletes.
Obaseki had announced a reward of N250,000 for each Athlete who won gold for the State during the tournament while Silver and Bronze medalists would get the sum of N150,000 and N100,000 respectively.
Apparently unsatisfied with the governor’s pledge, some of the athletes grudgingly left the venue- abandoning the lavish entertainment.
Recall that Team Delta topped the medals table after winning 158 gold, 116 silver, and 110 bronze, while Team Edo, the host, came second with 129 gold, 104 silver and 108 bronze ahead of team Bayelsa, finished a distant third with 56 gold, 55 silver, and 58 bronze in the tournament tagged: “Edo 2020”.
A prelude to the Governor’s gesture, a female member of Edo State sports Council, presented a gift to Governor Godwin Obaseki on behalf of team Edo, amidst praises.
The Governor who formally declared closed two weeks, also announced a cash reward for other Edo Athletes to the tournament including Paralympics Athletes who did not win a medal after some of the Athletes at the venue, echoed their suspicion that may have been left out of the gesture.
According to him, “For those of you who did not win medal I have a gift for you”.
Speaking further, the Governor also urged the Nigerian youths not to be discouraged following the many challenges facing the nation but rather “have hope for a brighter future for the nation”.
He commended Team Edo and their coaches for coming out second, adding that the State contingent has made the state proud as they won their medals without doping.
“Our athletes did well. They were not caught with drugs or caught doping. They did their best and won their medals without being involved in drugs. Our youths were well behaved throughout the competition”.
“The spirit of the national Sports Festival was born in this city after the Civil war as our leaders thought it wise to use the game to unite the nation”, he said.
He also urged the Athletes to take advantage of the state-of-art facilities at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium for their training ahead of the the 2020 Olympic in Tokyo and future sporting Completions.
One of the aggrieved medalists, wondered why the State had to give N250,000 for gold while Delta and Oyo State gave N1 million and N500,000 to their Athletes a gold medal at the same tournament.
Unperturbed by the outburst of some of the aggrieved Athletes, jubilant security personnel and other spectators around the stadium, moved into the arena after Government officials had stepped aside and ate the delicious meals and took the assorted drinks without observing the instruction of the Caterers.
They also danced to the melodious music to the amazement of other guests.
The Edo Athlete who pleaded for anonymity, also revealed that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole led Government in Edo State gave N1 million for each gold medal when Kaduna State hosted the national Sports Festival in 2009 and 2012 edition which was hosted by the Lagos State Government.
“For Athletes who sustained injury at the tournament, and there is no employment for Athletes. What will the sum of N100,000 for bronze mean to to him?”, he asked.