After returning from its first outing at the 16th IAAF World Championships in London with no medal, the newly constituted board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), is embroiled in personality clash that may further drag the fortunes of track & field in the country deep into oblivion.
Majority members of the AFN board are accusing its President, Ibrahim Gusau, of running the federation like a personal fief.
Gusau who is a former member of the Federal House of Representatives is being accused of single handedly constituting committees for the federation.
Last Tuesday, the AFN Secretary General, Amaechi Akawo, released a list of committee members supposedly approved by the federation board.
But in a swift move, the Vice-president of the federation, Olamide George and other members of the board, discountenanced the list.
They insisted that there was no board meeting where such decisions were reached.
The board members therefore called on athletics aficionados to dismiss the purported list as it did not emanate from the AFN board that has the constitutional mandate to constitute and approve the sub-committees.
â€œAs far as we are concerned, the sub-committees of the AFN have not been constituted because the board has not met to deliberate on them and other issues necessary to enable us hit the ground running especially after our participation at the IAAF World Championships in London last month,â€ said George, a former national 400m hurdler.
To ensure fairness, George who is a member of the Ondo State House of Assembly called on Gusau to call a board meeting to iron out the issue of constituting sub committees.
â€œI remember I called on the President, Honourable Ibrahim Gusau to urgently call for a board meeting to enable us review our performance at the 16th IAAF World Championships in London and map out technical and marketing plans for 2018 which is two seasons in one for us.
â€œThe Commonwealth Games is coming up in April 2018 while the African Championships will hold in July/August which means we should have hit the ground running as soon as the World Championships ended in London. I am thus shocked to know that the sub-committees have been constituted without the knowledge of board members because there was no board meeting called to that effect,â€ revealed George to reporters in Lagos thursday.
Brown Ebewele, the man elected to head the technical arm of the AFN believes the purported list was a joke carried too far.
â€œAs far as I am concerned, the AFN sub-committees have not been constituted and the board will meet soon to constitute them as stipulated by the code of governance handed over to the AFN by the Sports Ministry during our inauguration,â€ stressed Ebewele.
Sports Writers of Nigeria (SWAN) representative on the board of the AFN, Dare Esan, told THSIDAY that he was not aware of any sub-committee constituted in the federation.
Esan was particularly shocked that the federation’s president could unilaterally constitute the sub-committees.
â€œAll over the world the position of the technical committee chairman or technical director of an athletics federation has always been filled by individuals with huge coaching experience and background in sports science because sports, especially track and field has gone really scientific.
â€œIn the absence of an individual with such qualification on the board, then the board of the federation can look at an accomplished ex-international who has participated at either the Olympic Games or the IAAF World Championships or both. The individual our president has wrongly assigned that role to is inappropriate as far as the position is concerned.
â€œIn fact, it is only in Nigeria that an athletesâ€™ representative has been accorded the status of a board member. All over the world the athletes representatives only head an athletesâ€™ commission created by the constitution of the board,â€ stressed Esan whose sentiments were echoed by three-time Olympic and five-time IAAF World Championships coach, Gabriel Okon.
Other members of the new board like Sydney 2000 Olympic Games 4x400m Olympic gold medalist, Fidelis Tafida Gadzama and Professor Emmanuel Ojeme are also believed not to be in the know of the constitution of any new sub committees in the federation.
THISDAY further learnt last night that Gusau has been given two-week ultimatum to call for a board meeting or face whatever decision the majority members of the board may take.