Hope rises for businesses as Edo hosts National Sports Festival

...Police assure of tight security

As Edo State gears up for the hosting of the National Sports Festival, business owners, including Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, are already relishing the prospects of enormous wealth that will be amassed.

The 20th edition of the National Sports Festival (NSF), tagged “Edo 2020”, is billed to hold from April 2 to April 14 after several postponements from its initial date due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The biennial festival, which is Nigeria’s biggest multi-sports event, will draw above 8,000 athletes and officials from 35 states across the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to the state.

Ahead of the long-awaited festival, sports kit sellers, hoteliers, food vendors, transporters, including online taxi services, among others, anticipate a massive boost in sales and profits as influx of sports enthusiasts and tourists will boom economic activities.

Residents in the state opined that the sport fiesta, which will feature many events, presents another golden opportunity for business owners to exhibit their wares to a large, diverse group of consumers with the intent of making quick sales and smiling to the banks.

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Anticipating future gains, Grace Omeniwan, a sports and fitness accessories trader, told BusinessDay on Thursday that the movement of many contingents and visitors into the state would expand the volume of commercial activities and boost sales.

“As you can see, sport lovers are already trooping into the state. There is no doubt that this period will improve our businesses,” Omeniwan said.

Another entrepreneur, Vivian Nwachukwu, who expressed hope that it would be a bumper period, said she is glad the event would finally take place.

“I have already filled my shop with goods and I eagerly await the commencement of the festival. Whenever there is sports festival, there is always joy as sales will increase. When Edo State hosted during Lucky Igbinedion administration, it was so interesting and we believe this will be better,” Nwachukwu said.

Also, a restaurateur, Dorothy Odigie, said the sports festival would be of great impact to her business.

“Unlike some days ago, we are very busy selling foods to the participants and other sports fans,” Odigie said.

The state government has assured a seamless event. However, some dwellers have stressed the need to reinforce security in order to forestall any possible breakdown of law and order ahead of the festival.

Kontongs Bello, Edo State Police Public Relations Officer, said the command is prepared and has deployed over 3,000 officers to cover different game centres and hotel accommodations for the participants.

“The officers and men were drafted from the conventional police, counter-terrorism and anti-traffic unit of the police and will be assisted by other sister security organisations to ensure a hitch-free event,” he said.

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