By Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
Members of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) FCT Chapter have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari not to turn a deaf ear to the allegation in the sports sector bothering on the N2.7 billion allegedly misappropriated by the National Sports Commission (NSC).
The request was contained in a communique issued by the chapter at the end of its first congress for the year on Friday, to evaluate the state of sports management in Nigeria.
The money in question was approved by government last year as a grant to prepare Nigerian athletes for the All Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville as well as for the training of athletes that will be participating at the Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil this summer.
The alarm bells were sounded as a wake-up call to government as the belief is that Nigeria is inexorably on a path of humiliation at the Olympics in the same manner as it happened at the London 2012, where the country failed to win a medal.
SWAN appeal was in the light of report that government was not too disposed to releasing additional funds for preparation of athletes after NSC and the Ministry of Sports failed to explain how the money that is now a source of concern was spent.
They also called on government to beam its anti-corruption searchlight on the sports sector.
The congress appealed to Buhari to fast track the release of money to athletes as they are capable of winning laurels at the Olympics if they are given the right incentives, including integrated local and foreign training tours.
Sports writers similarly tasked government to explore alternative means, including the National Lottery Funds and Sports Development Funds to finance sports and augment its budgetary allocations. It should also consider making tax concessions and other generous rebate to corporations that sponsor sports.
They also wondered why government failed to leverage on the success of Team Nigeria, which was an initiative driven by Corporate Nigeria towards generating fund for local and foreign training tours for athletes ahead of major international sporting events.
The reporters also challenged Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, to prioritise his objectives by making public his developmental programme, instead of grandstanding and embarking on fruitless trips outside the country.