Millions of Nigerians would have been denied the opportunity of watching the live coverage of the closing ceremonies of the 20th National Sports Festival after the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and Edo State Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu almost threw out the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).
The seemingly intractable situation was however resolved by the Minister of Youth and sports Development Chief Sunday Dare who pulled the strings at the highest level of Government.
NTA had covered the opening ceremonies which made the national broadcaster to also set up its equipment to transmit the Festival live. The arrangement was however threatened with the Deputy Governor pulling the plug as he claimed that the state government had no money to pay for the live transmission, though the state had paid two private broadcasters for the same coverage.
A source in NTA said, “They created an emergency by telling us at the last moment that because the Federal Government had not paid the money promised Edo State as assistance, they had no money to pay NTA for the live coverage. But I can tell you that they paid the other stations that are privately owned to cover the event. They wanted us to dismantle our equipments and leave when we were already on the ground.”
The LOC chairman had adopted a belligerent approach towards the Federal Government over a promised financial assistance to the host state to cushion losses from the postponements of the Festival tagged Edo 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our reporter gathered that it took the intervention of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development Chief Sunday Dare who approached the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday to approve NTA live coverage.
This led to last minute redemption of the situation with the ceremony taken live on NTA.