President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the immediate suspension of the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival (NSF) in Benin City, the Edo State capital, Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mr Sunday Dare, said on Monday.
The minister said this while addressing State House correspondents after he briefed President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja in company of Minister of State for Health, Mr Olorunibe Mamora.
“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Ministry of Youths and Sports Development because of the Edo 2020 National Sports Festival, has been in close touch and consultation with the ministry of health – particularly with both the minister of health and the minister of state, health. We’ve also been in consultation with the governor and deputy governor of Edo State, the Local Organising Committee (LOC), and the Ministry Organising Committee (MOC) but we have had the ministry of health take the lead.
“Base on daily review on development, we got assurances that we could go ahead. But because we are dealing with a dynamic situation, this morning, we had a meeting at the ministry of health in the office of the minister of health with the minister of state, health present, myself, the permanent secretary and the Director General of National Center for Disease Control (NCDC).
“Shortly after the meeting which lasted for about 45 minutes, we proceeded to the presidency to brief Mr President. After briefing Mr. President, Mr Presdent took the initiative and gave the directive that the National Sports Festival, christened Edo 2020 should be postponed as a precautionary measure against the press of COVID-19. A new date will be communicated late based on development around COVID-19,” he said.
Also speaking, Minister of State for Health, Mr Olorunibe Mamora, said each country is at liberty to take decision in its best interest.
“If the situation happening thereafter, dictates that certain action be taken, we would not hesitate to take such and so it was against that background that we also had a meeting this morning with the Minister of Youth and Sports and we felt that in the overall interest of Nigerians and national health security, it is better to err on the side of caution and therefore, we conveyed to Mr President our thought and Mr President thereafter kindly agreed that it was best for us to have this postponement.
“One of the things that we need to give attention to is the postponement is the possibility of people carrying the virus even without knowing – what we called A-Symptomatic – that is they carry it but they don’t even know because they are not manifesting symptoms.
“And what we need so far is that up to 80 to 81 percent of people would either be A-Symptomatic – that is not showing any symptoms or where they show symptoms, the symptoms may just be mild and moderate and this is a major source of what we call community transmission.
“So the principle of social distancing has to be respected. That is preventive or advising against congregation of large number of people starting from the national sports festival which stands postponed.
“That also extends to religious gathering or any other gathering that would have a large number of people. It is not advisable at this point in time,” he said.