Para and deaf athletes brought the activities at the National Stadium, Surulere and its environs to a halt following their exclusion from competing at fast-approaching National Sports Festival in Delta State.
The 2022 festival is fixed to hold from November 28, 2022 to December 10, 2022 in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
The aggrieved athletes, who stormed the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos in their hundreds as early as 6am, locked up the exit and entrance gates of the stadium to prevent staff of the sports ministry from gaining access into the sports complex.
They also prevented vehicles using the ever busy Funsho Williams Road, Surulere, Lagos from having access to the road and the arrival of the policemen from Barrack Police Station and the appeal by the Liaison officer of the ministry, Nkana Nbora could prevail on them as they went on with their protest for more than five hours.
The athletes described the decision of the Sports Minister, Sunday Dare to stop para and deaf athletes from the sports festival as act of hatred and segregation at the highest level.
They displayed placards with various inscriptions such as: “We need equal right, We’re human beings just like you. Stop the discrimination.”
“People with disabilities in this country deserve a better life.”
“Do not send us to the streets; it’s high time the Ministry paid more attention to para sports.”
“We cannot be used and dumped in this country, Sunday Dare, you’re our father, please treat us equally.”
“Do the right thing, deaf athletes have been participating in Sports Festival since 1996.”
“Why removing it now, our records for this country speak for us and President Buhari, call the Minister to order” and many more.
A representative of deaf athletes, Nurudeen Olayiwola Badmus explained that it’s wrong for the Sports Ministry to brand some sports optional, noting that all sports should be compulsory to give everybody a sense of belonging.
According to him, deaf athletes have been participating in the National Sports Festival since 1996 and have won many medals for the country at the Deaflympics Games and wondered why they should be denied participation in a festival that is held every two years.
He called for Presidential intervention because they have been training for the festival and looking forward to be in Delta State to represent their various state before the unfortunate announcement which he believes is capable of negatively affecting the development of the country’s sports.
Meanwhile, President of Deaf Sports Federation of Nigeria, Alhaji Suleiman Dagbo Saka, has lamented the inability of the Sports Ministry to come out clean on the issue, noting that he sent a letter to the ministry as requested but nothing has come out of it.