Dalung Admits N2.9 bn Olympics Money Unaccounted for

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By Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

Youths and Sports Minister Solomon Dalung has raised the alarm that he was yet to be properly briefed about how N2.9 billion meant for the preparation of Nigerian athletes for the Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil was spent.

It was initially reported that government approved N2.7 billion to be released through the defunct National Sports Commission (NSC) for the participation of Nigerian athletes at the last All Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville, Youths Olympics in China and preparation for Rio 2016.

The country only attended the All Africa Games and the Youth Games, while lack of funding has stalled the camping of athletes who qualified for the Olympics. The federations have also been lamenting of their failure to embark on local and foreign training tours.

But Dalung yesterday revised the approved amount to N2.9 billion based on the memo which authorised its approval by President Muhammadu Buhari, which he said was made available to him upon request.

The minister said that he was not provided with enough information by the former Director General of NSC, Alhassan Yakmut, about how the money was spent, saying the controversy was a source of concern to him.

The dispute about the money became public issue, when the request tabled by NSC for additional fund to prepare Nigeria athletes for Olympic Games was turned down by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPE) which demanded for accountability on how the money earlier released was spent.

‘’It is true President Buhari approved N2.9 billion last year to the defunct NSC. But as I speak today as the Minister, I don’t think I have got enough information about how the money was spent. The story of N2.9 billion is of serious concern to me like any one. Since the former director general told the media that they gave him the money, I am asking the same question,” Dalung said.

Dalung said that the minutes of the approved sum by President Buhari required that the money must be accounted for and must be for the approved purpose.

The Minister said that apart from preparing the team, the fund also ought to cover the cost of paying for hostel accommodation for the delegation in Brazil.

He said he had to seek alternative sources of money to pay for the balance of accommodation when he travelled to Rio last month and had to pay three times the value because of variation in naira exchange rates.