Oyo State governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, on Wednesday, declared that the state government will continue to encourage sports development at the grassroots.
The Governor,who stated this while hosting the Oyo State athletes and coaches at the just concluded National Sports Festival (NSF), Edo 2021, at the Executive Council Chamber, Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan, added that his administration has been committing funds to upgrade sports facilities as a way of enhancing development.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Taiwo Adisa quoted the governor as saying that his administration will continue to provide a conducive atmosphere for all athletes in the state to excel.
The Governor, equally pledged to reward each athlete who won a gold medal at the just concluded Edo 2020 Sports Festival with N500,000; silver medal, N350,000; bronze medal, N250,000, adding that each coach, irrespective of the medal won, will be rewarded N500,000.
He stated further that the only gold medalist who competed in shotput and discus will be given an additional N1 million, while the para-power lifting athletes will also be given an extra N1 million.
The Governor said: “I will make some pronouncements now and it has to be done within the next two weeks.
“For each gold medal, we will pay N500,000. For each silver medal, we will give N350,000 and for each bronze medal, we will give N250,000. For the coaches, irrespective of the medal won, we will give each coach, N500,000.
“To our only gold medalist, who competed in the shotput and discus because we want to encourage athletes in that category, so, we will give N1 million extra to him. Also, we will give the para-power lifting athlete an additional N1 million.
“I want to say congratulations to our medalists. This government has been committing a lot of resources towards sports development in Oyo State, and this is aside the Lekan Salami and Olubadan Stadia that are undergoing serious upgrades right now.
“The same type of track where Hussain Bolt made history is the same one that is being installed at Lekan Salami Stadium. So, in the years to come, I believe we will also produce our own world record holders in Oyo State.
“I am glad with the result and I want to commend the athletes and coaches for making Oyo State proud and for a job well done.
“This government will continue to encourage sports development even at the grassroots level.”
While explaining that his administration has been upgrading sports facilities across the geopolitical zones in the state, he added that the state hopes to see the results of the investments in the next National Sports Festival.
“That is why, across the geopolitical zones of Oyo State, we are upgrading sports facilities there. So, we should start seeing the results from that investment. I am sure that we will see instant results at the next National Sports Festival, which is scheduled to take place next year.
“If some states are trying to approach you, you don’t need to go because Oyo State will definitely provide the required atmosphere for you to excel,” the governor added.
He maintained that his administration has fulfilled at least a percentage of the promises made by the last administration, which it could not fulfill because of lack of political will, adding that the state provided immediate gratification for the 2020 medalists as soon as they confirmed winning a medal.
He added: “When we came in, we saw the file on athletes; the medalists at the 2018 event. People can make promises and not keep them. But without mincing words, we met several promises and we had to investigate why those promises were not fulfilled but we found out that there was no intention from the initial point to fulfill the promises.
“If I promise you that I want to do something, I should start from the request, the first approval, more work, next approval, and the final approval. Unfortunately, none of that was done when we came in. But we picked it up and within the limited resources that were available to us, we fulfilled at least a percentage of those promises. And I believe even for this particular event, we encouraged the Oyo State Sports Council to give something to the medalists instantly as soon as they confirmed winning a medal.
“I have listened to the requests put forward and we will look at it. One assurance that I can give to you is that Oyo State will continue to encourage its own athletes to even do more.
“I have set a target of at least 100 gold medals for the next Sports Festival and everything that will aid in realising that vision, we will put in place.
“So, on behalf of the government and the good people of Oyo State, we want to congratulate you for making us proud and we want to wish you all the best in your career and future competition. We are here to support you.”
Earlier, the Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Seun Fakorede said the contingent from Oyo State distinguished themselves by coming 6th overall in 22 events, with an impressive haul of 103 medals, including 31 Gold Medals, 30 Silver, and 42 Bronze.
Fakorede said: “This huge success was essentially driven by the commitment of His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde (FNSE), which he displayed first in 2020 when he took it upon himself to pay the cash reward to the 2018 National Sports Festival Medalists, which was promised by the last administration and was not fulfilled.
“This step set the tone for the beautiful performance in the Edo 2020 event, which we are here to celebrate today.”
The commissioner added that as part of the commitment of his administration, the government has engaged in massive re-engineering and construction of various sports facilities throughout the state.
He added: “Sports, being a veritable tool in harnessing the energies of our young ones towards a worthy venture, and thus, arresting their attention from social vices that bedevil them at this stage of their lives. Therefore, we commend the effort of His Excellency for deeming it fit to give the youth and all sports stakeholders an enabling environment to express themselves and showcase their talents.
In his remarks, the representative of the athletes, Babalola Mumini appreciated Governor Makinde for the support given to them during the tournament.
He requested for employment opportunities for the athletes and officials who performed well, while also soliciting for the timely approval and prompt release of funds to facilitate efficient preparation for festivals and other championships.
He said: “The past government promised us some things and when you came in, you put a smile on our faces and fulfilled 50 per cent of the promises they made to us.
“We know the outcome of getting a medal at the end of the day. This is one of the best resources so far since 1974. Last year, we got 16 gold but this year, we got 31 golds, 30 Silver, and 42 Bronze. So, we are pleading and we want you to look into it to prepare us for the next editions.”