As the battle for the soul of athletics management continues to rage in the country, the embattled Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) President, Ibrahim Shehu Gusau, who was placed under suspension by some members of the federation’ last week yesterday declared all the allegation leveled against him are farce but would be willing to dialogue in the interest of the sport in the country.
Hammer fell on the boss last week when some members suspended him for alleged violation of the constitution of the federation, misappropriation and misapplication of funds, and his penchant for taking unilateral decisions without the board’s approval, among other charges.
But fielding questions from the media in Lagos yesterday, Gusau said his travails began when he invited the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to look into the $130, 000 saga with a view to clearing his name. Before taking that action, he said he was picked as the culprit in the case even when he was innocent of the charges.
“On the inauguration of our board in July, 2017, I was confronted with an allegation in respect of USD150, 000 paid to the AFN. I was accused of mismanaging the funds and in keeping with the President Buhari’s commitment to accountability and transparency, I submitted myself to the relevant agencies for investigation.
“The individual reports exonerated me from any culpability but raised questions which the agencies are diligently pursuing.
“My action in submitting myself to be investigated laid the foundation for the misunderstandings being experienced in the AFN today.
“It is common knowledge that the President Buhari has been doing everything within his powers to attract foreign investment. He is also irrevocably committed to creating jobs, especially for our teeming youth.
“Let me make it abundantly clear that everything we have done has been with the best interests of athletes in mind and an innate desire to develop athletics in Nigeria. We believe that without athletes, there will be no sports and without sports, there will be no Sports Federation.
“We had no intention of addressing the Press as we believed the matter at hand is one that can be resolved as a family. When we realised that some of our members did not share our visions, aspirations and determination to abide by our statutes, we decided to take the matter to the Congress to sort out all grey areas. We believed and still believe that whatever grievances our colleagues have, can be handled by the Congress, which is the highest decision making arm of our Federation.
“At this point, we are convinced that “silence” is no longer golden. When you allow falsehood to thrive, after a while, it assumes the position of the truth. We shall address a few of the issues raised, with documents, and let Nigerians be the judge.”
Gusau said the Sports Ministry top shots were misled into believing that the meeting in Abuja, where he was impeached, was duly convened, adding that the only meeting sanctioned by the board was the one held in Awka last week.
He added, “By a letter dated November 5, 2019 and signed by the then Secretary General of the AFN, Adamu E. A., States’ Athletics Associations were invited to an Annual General Congress.
“Arrival for the Awka board meeting and Congress was scheduled for December 3, 2019, which is the same day a board meeting, purportedly convened by me was to hold.”
Gusau questioned the status some of the members who attended the meeting in Abuja, saying only elected members have the right to take certain decisions.
He said that the extra-ordinary congress in Awka had representatives from 29 states’ Athletics’ Associations as participants, adding, “The first Vice President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Solomon Ogba, represented the President, Habu Ahmed Gumel.”
He also explained that securing alternative means of funding the activities of the federation would ease the pressure on government and the scarce resources pursued by every sector of the economy, adding, “this is part of the reasons we seek autonomy to enable us increase the funding base of the Federation.”
On the sponsorship agreement with Puma, Gusau denied the allegations that members were not carried along when the deal was being negotiated, adding, “I am pleased to inform Nigerians that the Puma sponsorship deal, which is in kind, will runfrom September 1, 2019 to December 31, 2022. It is unique in the sense that Puma will deliver kits worth $2.76 million to the Federation in Abuja, Nigeria. That way, we do not have to spend scarce resources available to be travelling to Germany to collect the kits.
“We are working hard to ease the pressure on government yet some people are bent on frustrating our efforts.”
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