Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji on Wednesday announced cash gifts for the state’s athletes that participated in the just concluded National Youth Games in Asaba, Delta State, even as he disclosed government’s plan to upgrade their training facilities.
Governor Oyebanji at the well attended state reception for the athletes at the Governor’s Office in Ado- Ekiti also disclosed that Government is already investigating circumstances that led to the poor kitting of the state contingent at opening ceremony of the Games and would ensure that erring officials do not go unpunished.
The reception was attended by the Deputy Governor, Chief (Mrs) Monisade Afuye, Secretary to the State Government, Dr (Mrs) Habibat Adubiaro, Head of Service, Engr Sunday Kokolafe as well as members of the state executive council and officials of the state’s sports council.
Governor Oyebanji who lauded the young athletes for their “impressive performances” , apologized to them and all Ekiti indigenes home and abroad for the embarrassment and inappropriate behavior of the officials of the Sports Council during the competition, adding that there would be dire consequences for officials that caused the harrowing experience for the athletes.
He, however praised the athletes for defying all odds to win medals for the State, assuring them of government’s support to attain greater heights in their respective areas of specialization.
While expressing displeasure at the unfair treatment meted on the athletes, Oyebanji restated that government provided the Sports Council with funds for the successful outing of the contingents at the tournament.
Governor Oyebanji, who pledged cash gifts to each of the athletes, called on relevant stakeholders to join government in making sports a lucrative business, as government cannot do it alone.
Oyebanji also assured that government would continue to pay more attention to sports development adding that he would sign the bill establishing the State Sports Commission within the next two weeks with a view to promoting all-round sport development in the state.
He added that efforts are in top gear to set up indoor games centers in the state next year.
The Governor said the Oluyemi Kayode stadium in Ado Ekiti as well as other stadia in Ikere, Ijero and Ikole would soon be given facelift, saying his administration would leave no stone unturned in the quest to maximize the potentials of young talents in sports and other areas.
“Let me start on the note of apology to you for the indiscretion and the inappropriate behavior of the officials of the sports council, as a government, we tried our best to provide for you, but the officials for reasons best known to them decided to act inappropriately.
“As a government, I accept responsibility for this not because I support those that decided to act in a way and manners that has brought embarrassment to you and to all Ekiti indigenes all over the world but as the Governor of Ekiti state, I apologize to all Ekiti indigenes for the embarrassment caused by sports council officials to all of us and I hope you accept my apology but I can assure you that justice will be served.
“My take away from what happened is that it has strengthened our resolve to pay more attention to sports development, you will realize that in one of our campaign promises, I said we will take sports away from the ministry, we did that because we realized that people are pushing sports development to the background.
“So, we took sports management away from the ministry, we have sent the bill to the House of Assembly to put in place the Ekiti State Sports Commission, the House has passed the bill and within the next two weeks we are going to sign the bill into law.”, the Governor added.
The elated young athletes responded intermittently to the Governor with loud applauses and songs.
Speaking on behalf of the team, Aisha Ololade said they are happy at the Governor’s prompt intervention during the games as well as hosting them upon their return to the State.
She said they are all fully motivated to do more for the state in future tournaments.