National Sports Festival, Eko 2012 Off To A Colourful, Edifying Start
…President Jonathan, Fashola urge fair competition, just officiating
Nov 27, 2012 - The 18th National Sports Festival tagged Eko 2012 got off to a colourful, enlightening and electrifying start on Tuesday as the rich culture and tradition of Lagos State that is playing host to more than 8000 athletes and officials from the 35 States and the Federal Capital Territory came on display.
Speaking at the ceremony which took place at the Main bowl of the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, the State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and Vice President Namadi Sambo who stood in for President Goodluck Jonathan urged all the participating teams to compete fairly and the officials to decide justly.
Governor Fashola said Lagos State remains committed to ensuring the attainment of the underlying principles of the games which is sports development and unity, adding that while the state has decided to compete and get to the top of the medals table, it will not be desperate about it.
According to the Governor, simply leading the medals table at the end of the Games would not have achieved the purposes of the festival which is about sports development and unity.
"The ultimate triumph in these games for us will be to lead the table and also the number of new and young champions we discovered and the number of new friendships that we make. Therefore any thought of winning in this game will only be meaningful if the winners are sports development and our national unity".
In his address while declaring the Games open, President Goodluck Jonathan who was represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo said the national sports festival has met its cardinal objective of fostering unity and friendship among Nigerian youths as well as the discovery of new talents for the future.
He commended the government and good people of Lagos State for accepting to host the 18th National Sports Festival which is like a home –coming for the State since the first edition of the games was held in Lagos in 1973.
He added that in line with the promise made by the Federal Government at the 17th National Sports Festival in Rivers State, it has introduced a cash reward for the first three states on the medals table at the end of the games.
According to President Jonathan, the sum of N20 Million has been earmarked for the overall winning state while N15 Million has been set aside as prize money for the second place state and a sum of N10Million would be won by the third place state.
In his message of goodwill, the Minister of Sports and Chairman of the National Sports Commission, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi commended the government of Lagos State for keeping to the spirit of the agreement of the games with the quality of its preparation and facilities.
He added that with the facilities already put in place for the games, Lagos State has raised the bar for the competition and would leave lasting memories for everyone including the participants and officials.
He gave a commitment that the talents discovered at the games would be groomed and nurtured to represent Nigeria at the international stage as it has been done in the past.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Deputy Governor who is also the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Hon (Mrs) Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire said Lagos is excited to be the proud host of the 18th National Sports Festival and is determined to use the opportunity to make history by showing the best of Lagos and what makes her people unique.
She was certain that EKO 2012 promises to promote the ideals of great sports which among others are striving for excellence, demonstrating respect and celebrating friendship, adding that Lagos is determined to use the games to inspire hope and re-ignite the bond of unity among the people.
"As the events commence at all the designated venues, I wish to urge all of us to remember that sportsmanship must be the spirit, fair play our attitude, friendliness our conduct and excellence, our goal", the LOC Chairman said.
The ceremony featured a march past by the contingents of the each of the 36 States and Federal Capital Territory as well as oath taking by Mr Babatunde Mohammed who represented the athletes and Mr Patrick Omorodion for the officials.
The high point of the opening ceremony was the rich cultural displays by the Egungun, Igunnuko, Gelede Masquerades and climaxed with the Adamu Orisha dance leading to the Eyo which was unveiled from the gigantic platform from which all the cultural groups had emerged while there was also a special rendition of 'Water E No Get Enemy' by Fela Anikulapo- Kuti.
Dignitaries who attended the opening ceremony included Governors Ibikunle Amosun and Rotimi Amaechi of Ogun and Rivers States respectively, former Governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Governors, Alhaji Lateef Jakande and Brigadier General Mobolaji Johnson (Rtd), First Lady, Dame Emmanuel Abimbola Fashola, Senator representing Lagos Central Senatorial District, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, Lagos West, Senator Ganiyu Solomon, Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Adeyemi Ikuforiji, members of the State Executive Council, members of the State House of Assembly, Chairmen of Local Government Areas and Local Council Development Areas, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Babatunde Akiolu I, other traditional rulers and dignitaries from all walks of life.