President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday flagged-off the 18th National Sports Festival tagged Eko 2012 with tight security around the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Jonathan, who assured Nigerians of his preparedness to vigorously support ideas that will make the country stronger, more united and strengthened, also announced a cash reward of N20million for the first place team, while the second and third teams will walk away with N15million and N10million respectively.
Jonathan, while declaring the games open, vowed to implement recommendations of the recently concluded Presidential Retreat on Sports.
The president who was represented at the ceremony by the Vice president Namadi Sambo, said: "I wish to assure all Nigerians that the recommendations made at the end of the retreat would be fully implemented for the development of sports in Nigeria.
"Due to the importance of sports in the development of any nation, the federal government would never relent in its commitment to ensure that the sports sector of the country receives the necessary attention."
Meanwhile, the Lagos state governor Mr. Babatunde Fashola urged the participants to compete fairly, saying the significance of the festival cannot be overemphasised.
He assured the participants that the state's hospitality would be in place to welcome thousands of athletes and spectators who will be part of the games.
Fashola said the coming together of the states irrespective of the political, ethnic and religious diversities, is an affirmation that the festival has as its cardinal objective the unification of the country.
In attendance at the opening ceremony were the governors of Rivers and Ogun, Rotimi Amaechi and Ibikunle Amosun respectively. Other dignitaries at the event include former governor of Lagos State Bola Tinubu, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu 1, among others.