Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebnji, has apologised to the state’s athletes at the just-concluded 2023 National Youths Games (NYG) in Asaba, Delta State over the shabby manner they were treated by the Ekiti State Sports Council officials.
The Governor, who spoke in Ado Ekiti during a reception for the athletes on Wednesday evening, said the incident had strengthened the state government’s resolve to develop sports, and assured the youngsters and their coaches of financial rewards.
Oyebanji said the officials embarrassed the athletes, their parents, Ekiti people at home and abroad and the state generally.
The athletes, described as “Great Ekiti Ambassadors,” won a total of seven medals — two gold, two silver and three bronze — at the Games.
Ekiti athletes were kitted in all sorts of unbefitting wears during the march past for the opening of the games in what has been described as an embarrassing situation which went viral and attracted criticisms.
Addressing the athletes, Oyebanji said, “Let me start on the note of apology to you for the indiscretion and the inappropriate behaviour 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 ways and manners that have brought embarrassment to you and to all Ekiti indigenes all over the world, but as the Governor of Ekiti State.
“I apologise to all Ekiti indigenes for the embarrassment caused by the sports council officials to all of us and I hope you accept my apology but I can assure you that justice will be served.”
The Governor, who lauded the young athletes for their “impressive performances”, assured them of government’s support to attain greater heights in their respective areas of specialisation.
He said, “I know you were not well fed there. I have photos of where you slept, but I thank God it happened. If it had not happened, we would not have paid attention to you. In adversities, there are lessons. What happened has strengthened our resolve to reposition sports in the state.”
Oyebanji added that the bill for the establishment of the state’s sports commission recently signed by the state House of Assembly would be passed within two weeks.
He said, “We are going to pay special attention to sports and the vehicle we are going to use is the sports commission, adding that “efforts are in top gear to set up indoor games centres 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 its quest to maximise the potential of young talents in sports and other fields.
Oyebanji also assured the athletes and coaches at the Youth Games that they would get cash rewards, and hailed his wife, Dr Olayemi Oyebanji and wife of former Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, for their intervention and invaluable contributions towards coming to the aid of the athletes in Asaba.
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