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Can Ogun State Relive The Nostalgia Of Gateway Games 2006 Next Year? - Politics - Nairaland

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Can Ogun State Relive The Nostalgia Of Gateway Games 2006 Next Year? by bestofnollywood: 10:18pm On Jun 12
Can Ogun State relive the nostalgia of Gateway Games 2006 next year?
The recent announcement and confirmation by the National Council of Sports that the National Sports Festival will now be held between 10th – 26th January 2025 in Ogun State begin to stir some nostalgic feelings of the spectacular experience by all and sundry when the festival was hosted last in Ogun State in 2006 under the administration of his Excellency, Now Distinguished Senator Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
The event which was tagged then Gateway Games 2006 has been adjudged severally as unarguably the most exciting, well organized, fulfilling of such in recent times.
Toyin Ibitoye in the publication ‘My unforgettable National Sports Festival’ published on February 5, 2021 perfectly captured this as follows:
“I have also had very fond memories of the 2006 Gateway Games in Ogun State. I think in I am yet to see a better organized NSF in recent history. The Gateway games had a lot of buzz and excitement around it. Ogun State had a good strategy and it was hugely successful every step of the way. Their first move was to create a sense of purpose and seriousness around the presentation of their bid to host the games. They were business minded and thorough, and they put together a very good bid document that wowed everyone. You would think that the State was seeking to host some international competitions like the Commonwealth or African Games. After winning the bid to host, the Ogun State Government promised there will not be any postponement. All the facilities would be ready and the 2006 NSF would begin on the date announced at the first instance…and that happened”
Kunle Somorin, the Immediate Past Press Secretary to the Ogun State Government recently also wrote about the recent bid for the Games in the This Day Newspaper that “It was at the 2022 edition that Ogun was granted the hosting rights for the 22nd edition of the games in 2024. Mr Sunday Dare, the then Minister of Youth and Sports Development, announced Ogun as the next host in Asaba during the closing ceremony of the 21st NSF on December 10, 2022. The minister said five states put in the bid to host the 2024 edition of the sporting festival”
He wrote further that “As soon as news broke out that the Gateway State was going to host the next edition of the NSF, sports enthusiasts were engulfed in nostalgia, excitement and anticipation, following the state’s showing when it first hosted the games in 2006. The Gateway Games, 17 years ago was considered the best in the history of the NSF staged during the administration of Otunba Gbenga Daniel. Curiously, Bukola Olopade, who was Sports Commissioner when the festival was hosted, has been poached by Governor Dapo Abiodun as the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC)”
He reported further that “While inaugurating the 16-man LOC for the 22nd National Sports Festival, the Governor, Prince Abiodun said that the state was more than prepared to surpass previous editions and the achievements recorded during the last festival held by the state in 2006. He also promised to continue to put in place world-class sporting infrastructure across the state. “We are determined to put in place world-class sporting infrastructure across the length and breadth of the state, thus underscoring our determination to ensure that we host a very befitting sports festival to the admiration of all stakeholders in the sector and around the world. For us in Ogun State, this festival isn’t just about the competition and performances, even though we would love to host and win every medal. We want to host a National Sports Festival that will showcase the talent, our culture and potential of our great state as well as a very unique sense of hospitality of our people,”
However, 2 years after the announcement and perhaps without a visible preparation towards the Festival and a slight shift in dates, the current Commissioner for Sports Development, Hon. Wasiu Isiaka confirmed that the State is ready to host the National Sports Festival as the Federal Government announced January 2025 as the official date for the 22nd Edition of the National Sports Festival now tagged Gateway Games Ogun 2024. Interested watchers are feeling that this will be an uphill task going by the level of preparation, organization and publicity perceived to be on ground. Though in the 2024 Budget of the State. A sum of N11.4 billion consisting of N3.3billion Recurrent Expenditure and N8.1 billion capital expenditure was budgeted for Hosting the event whilst N2.7 billion consisting of N1.8 billion recurrent expenditure and N0.9 billion for capital expenditure for Participation, the first 2024 Quarterly Budget Performance Report recently published shows that no amount has been spent on the Budget Heads related to the Festival.
This is not a comfortable indicator of the level of readiness being projected. It is interesting to note that the 2006 Festival hosted the highest number of sporting events ever in the competition with pitches constructed for special events like Abula, Shooting, Five a Side etc and arrangements for high medal events like Swimming. The flood lights and scoreboards at the stadia have not been functioning for some time, and the ancillary infrastructure such as roads, street lights and a robust transportation infrastructure are not in top shape to welcome the influx of participants and visitors that the Festival will attract. There has been recent clamour to attend to the adjoining roads to the Wole Soyinka Railway Station at Laderin Abeokuta that will actively complement the inter state mobilities.
THE success of the Gateway Games Commission in 2006, cannot be easily achieved without noting the disciplined preparations and execution of certain events which significantly influenced the outcome. At present, some of these are not being visibly pursued. As a lead up to the Festival, some of the significant activities necessary to drive the consciousness and participations of the Ogun State hosts and the Nigerian sporting community within a few months to the events then included but were not limited to the following:
• The Convergence of a The Gateway Games Stakeholders Conference to showcase the vision and roadmap of the Festival for the buy and active participation of stakeholders
• The Launching and Massive National Awareness and Publicity of The Gateway Games Brand Paraphernalia – the Games Torch, Mascot and the Ambassador Gear. The Commission, led by the Governor then, embarked on a nationwide sensitization for the Festival by lightening the Gateway Torch in all State Capitals and appointing prominent individuals and benefactors as Gateway Games Ambassadors.
• Lead Up Competitive Events such as the Gateway Tertiary Institutions Games (GATIG), the GATIG Queen and the Gateway Games Queen Competition, Gateway Games and hosting the Pre Games Ambassadors Dinner.
• Massive Infrastructure Development, not only in areas directly related to sports – the Stadia and the Facilities, but also as well as ancillary hosting locations such as schools and entertainment facilities for the over 10,000 participants of the Festival..
• Promotion of Ancillary Economic Development activities such as – Improved transportation facilities, involvement of partners in the hospitality and catering business as well as arrangements for calisthenics, entertainment and volunteering servings to stimulate widespread opportunity for youth engagement and employment
• A robust financial management strategy that ensured that the event did not constitute a significant drain on the resources of the State such that the Festival largely funded itself, without financial scandals usually associated with events of this nature whilst still contributing to the economic development of the State. The mechanics for earning the budgeted Revenue of N2.9 billion for Participation and N1.2billion for .....


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