By Mike Oboh
Empty stands greeted the 19th National Sports Festival which began yesterday in Abuja.
The 60, 000 capacity stadium was virtually empty as residents of the Federal Capacity Territory stayed off the opening ceremony.
Aside from few students and the participating sportsmen and women who witnessed the ceremony, the glitters usually associated with previous festivals were all lacking.
The indifference of the residents may not be unconnected to the lack of publicity for the festival as well as the hard economic hardship in the country.
No fewer than 23 States participated in the opening ceremony with Adamawa State having only a person as its representative during the match past.
Delta, Edo and Lagos States had the largest numbers of contingent during the exercise.
The FCT minister, Mohammed Bello, in his welcome address, said he will ensure the security of the participants was given top priority.
Bello said the FCT will do everything to ensure a hitch-free competition.
Meanwhile, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki said yesterday that the State may bid for the hosting of the next festival.
Obaseki who spoke on the sideline said he has made the intention known to the Sports Minister.
The Secretary of the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha who represented President Muhammadu Buhari declared the festival open.