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Colour, Glamour As FG, 36 States, FCT Hoist Flags In Lagos For 18th National Sports Festival
…VP Namadi Sambo, Fashola, Kogi Governor underscore unifying value of sports

Nov 3, 2012 - The build up to the 18th National Sports Festival being hosted by Lagos took another colourful climb on Saturday as 36 States of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory Abuja on Saturday hoisted their flags to confirm their participation at the games with the Vice President Namadi Sambo restating the commitment of the Federal Government to sports development in the country.

The Vice President who spoke as a representative of President Goodluck Jonathan at the ceremony which took place at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere and had Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) Captain Idris Wada of Kogi State, several deputy Governors and Commissioners for Sports in attendance said the commitment informed the recent hosting of a Presidential retreat on sports by the President.

The Vice President gave a commitment that the Federal Government will ensure that the recommendations of the technical committee on the Presidential Retreat on Sports would be fully implemented.

In his address, the Chief Host and Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) said rather than engender crisis, the creation of State identities like flags can only strengthen the nation's unity wondering what would have been the colour and value of the flag hoisting event if there was only one flag to be hoisted for the National Sports Festival.

"And so to those who make a hue and cry about states having flags and colours, what would you have, if there were not these brilliant colours behind us this morning. I tell them that it is not the flags that threaten the unity of Nigeria, on the contrary, they cement the unity of the country".

Governor Fashola said Lagos is ready as all the infrastructure are in place substantially with just the I's being dotted and the T's being crossed, adding that in the next few weeks and days Lagos would not only be ready to receive thousands of athletes but would make them experience the classy Lagos hospitality.

The Governor who described the event as another momentous step towards the hosting of the National Sports Festival, added that it is very pleasing that the idea of the hoisting of the flags have become part of the ceremonials towards the formal opening of the games.

He recalled that 43 days ago, he was in Abuja to formally join in receiving the festival torch from the last host, the Rivers State Government to signal the formal commencement of the opening of the 18th edition of the games in Lagos.

The Governor commended the members of the Local Organising Committee for the wonderful preparation and also singled out the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, the Deputy Governor, Hon (Mrs) Adejoke Orelope- Adefulire for her efforts.

The Vice President, who said he is at the flag hoisting ceremony to hoist the national flag as a mark of support of the Federal Government for the festival, added that 43 days ago he handed over the Torch of Unity over for it to be taken round the 35 other participating States and FCT before finally arriving in Lagos.

He explained that the Torch handing over ceremony represented the official commencement of the 18th National Sports Festival tagged Eko 2012.

The Vice President said it was noteworthy that all States in the federation have always been participating at the games devoid of ethnic, religious or political colouration or differences.

The Chairman of the Local Organising Committee of the Games and Deputy Governor, Hon (Mrs) Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire in her address said the hoisting of flag is a symbolic event that represented the unity of the nation.

She said as the flags are raised, the unity and togetherness of Nigeria will be emphasized as the hoisting of the flags signifies the participation of the States in the federation in the games.

The LOC Chairman urged all the participating states to play fair and demonstrate sportsmanship in victory or in defeat at the games.

Speaking on behalf of the Sports Minister and Chairman of the National Sports Commission, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, the Director General of the National Sports Commission, Dr Patrick Ekeji said the successful hoisting of flags in Lagos for the festival represented the second time it would form part of the opening ceremonies with the first being at Rivers 2010.

He said the success and hardwork of the games is a validation of the commitment of the nation's leaders to use sports as a vehicle for achieving the transformational agenda of the Federal Government.

The highpoint of the ceremony was the hoisting of the Nigerian flag by Vice President, Namadi Sambo to indicate the support of the Federal Government while that of the host State was hoisted by Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) just as the festival flag was also hoisted before each of the 35 States flags and that of the FCT were hoisted in a batch of six States each by the Deputy Governors and Sports Commissioners of the various States.

Prominent among those who witnessed the flag hoisting ceremony were members of the State Executive Council, some members of the National Assembly, Council Chairmen in Lagos State, representatives of the 35 States of the Federation, members of the Local Organising Committee and stakeholders in the sports sector.


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