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Covid-19: FCTA halts combat sports

Feb, 2021 | By Niyi Busari | ||

To further curtail spread of Covid-19 in Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Acting Director, Department of Sports, FCT Administration (FCTA), Mr. Luka Istifanus has reiterated the ban on combat sports in the Territory. The position, according to him, was taken following FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello's directive to combat the spread of the deadly virus.

"The Honorable Minister sent a strong warning about activities that involve high volume of people at the sports centers that such should stop. So we're very mindful that whatever we are going to do has to be with limited number of people. For now, combat sports are ruled out of it. By the time we finish equipping ourselves with Covid-19 protocols everything will come back to normal," he stated. On the postponed National Sports Festival, the Acting Director said the postponement on three different occasions will affect the performance of athletes when the competition finally kicks off on February 14 this year.

Speaking in an interview with Abuja Digest Weekly, Mr. Istifanus disclosed that the postponements affected states' plans and budgets for the championship. He said: "The postponements demoralized the athletes. Remember this 20th edition of National Sports Festival was to have held in the month of March, 2020, but was postponed three days to our take-off and states, including FCT, had invested a lot in preparing their athletes for the competition.

"For instance, all our kits have been branded 'Edo 2020'. If the festival is shifted to, maybe, Calabar, can we use the branded kits in another state? Can government take financial responsibility of that? So, honestly speaking, it has demoralized us. From the government that is even sponsoring the festival to the administrators down to the athletes, the three-time postponement has dealt a big blow on us." He lamented that some of the athletes trained by FCT have left to represent other states in search of greener pastures.

Mr. Istifanus noted: "Athletes that we trained from the grassroots who are gold medal-bound athletes are now moving to other states that can offer cash for their services. "In the last quarter of 2020, the signals we were receiving from Covid-19 made us celebrate return of sports. So, we started our normal sporting activities from grassroots level to the city center. We have toured the councils in FCT to intimate them that Covid-19 is real and we need to study what is on the ground before sport takes off fully in FCT.

''Before then, we had two weeks open camp across the six Area Councils in preparation for the 20th National Sports Festival which was billed to start on 3 December, 2020. And we had started good preparation for the tournament, before it was postponed again. We started very well; at the beginning of the year we thought we will open camp ahead of time in preparation for the kick-off of Edo 2020 which was supposed to start on 14 February. But the second wave of Covid-19 may affect the camping.''

News Update

Defending the budget, Malam Bello called it a balanced budget, adding that capital expenditure will gulp 54.56% or N163,651,140,779.25 while recurrent expenditure takes home 45.44% amounting to N136,312,350,743.21 of the total estimates.

Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, has flagged off COVID-19 vaccination for residents of the Territory, just as she declared the safety of the vaccine.

Seven state Governors and one Deputy Governor graced the unveiling ceremony which was performed during the Nigerien President's visit to Nigeria. The unveiling was performed by the visiting President himself last week.

Minister of State, FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, who flagged off the programme last week in Gwagwalada, affirmed that the initiative was a strategy to enhance social inclusion.


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