Delta State Government says it hopes to spend about N4 billion in the hosting of the 21st African Senior Athletics Championships aimed at boosting the tourism potential of the state.
The championships are scheduled to hold between August 1 and August 5, in Asaba, the state capital.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who made the disclosure at a fundraising dinner on Thursday in Asaba, said the amount represented the state government’s proposed estimate for general logistics of the event.
“We are hosting this event not because Delta is awash with funds but because we believe the event will help to promote our tourism for revenue.
“Tonight, we have gathered here to raise funds in support of our effort to meet the demands of a successful hosting of the 21st African Senior Athletics Championships, tagged, “Asaba 2018”.
“As a government, we estimated up to N4 billion to cover major logistics for the successful organisation of the championships, which is taking place in our state.
“It also has a purpose to reawaken young talents as well as promote sports development in our state and Nigeria, in general,”Mr Okowa said.
The governor said the championships which is taking place “in Nigeria for the second time, is historic in the sense that it is being hosted in Asaba, outside Lagos, the sports capital of Nigeria.’’
He said the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, venue of the championships was nearing completion ahead of the continental competition.
Mr Okowa added that the Minister of Sports, Stephen Dalung, who was in the state, had expressed satisfaction with the level of work at the stadium and level of our preparedness.
He disclosed that Delta had over the years maintained a leading position in sports in Nigeria, which had culminated in the discovery of talents who had become international athletes, many of whom had represented Nigeria in world championships.
Mr Okowa called for the support of well-meaning individuals and organisations to support the state in its determination to hosting a successful event, saying that the fundraising became necessary because government could not do it alone.
“The hosting of an international event like this is not the task of government alone that is why we have all gathered here tonight to raise funds for the event.
“In hosting a championship of international standing, achieving success is a product of robust private-public partnership,” he said.
Earlier, the chairman of the event, Jim Ovia, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank Nigeria Ltd., had lauded Delta government’s efforts in preparing for the championships.
Mr Ovia, who was represented by Dennis Olisa, an Executive Director in the bank, restated the commitment of Zenith bank to sports development in Nigeria and pledged the bank’s support to the successful hosting.
He appealed to organisations and well-meaning individuals to support the hosting of the event, saying that sports had remained a unifying factor among nations of the world.
“Today, we have all come here to support and raise funds for the success of the African Senior Athletics Championship taking place in Delta state.
“I appeal to everyone here to give in support of the task ahead. We are not giving to Delta state, but we are giving to promote sports development in the state and Nigeria in general,” Ovia said.
The Zenith bank boss announced a donation of N300 million in support of the hosting of the championship.
Various organisations, captains of industries, companies, groups and individuals also made donations.