The Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN, has hailed Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare for his intervention regarding payments of allowances to athletes that represented Nigeria in international and continental competitions in the last three years.
Athletes and officials have either been short paid, underpaid or not paid at all by the suspended president of the AFN, and Sports Minister Dare tweeted on Friday that he was going to effect these payments once they are verified.
Acting president of the AFN, Olamide George says the federation is grateful to the Sports Minister for trying to wipe the tears of Nigerian athletes, especially the young ones who travelled by road to Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire for the CAA U-18 and U-20 championships last April.
“We are indeed blessed to have Mr. Dare as Sports Minister who understands that welfare of athletes remains a key factor in their development,” said George in a press statement.
“The Minister only recently in his new year message harped on welfare of athletes as one of his priority areas in his short term sports development plan and he is already matching his words with action. Like they say in local parlance, he is proving to be a talk and do Minister,” George added and revealed that athletes and officials have been at the receiving end of the maladministration that highlighted the tenure of the suspended president of the AFN, Shehu Ibrahim Gusau.
“Since the board was inaugurated in 2017, the administration of Gusua has been owing athletes and officials allowances. Coaches who accompanied the team to the World Championships in London in 2017 are still owed part of their allowances. Athletes and coaches that participated in the African Championships in Asaba in 2018 were underpaid despite the approval of N39m by the Ministry,” revealed George.
“In 2019, athletes and officials were owed allowances for the CAA U-18 and U-20 championships despite an approval and release of N13m by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development. They are owed allowances for the IAAF World Relays in Yokohama, Japan as well as the World Championships in Doha.
“For Doha, the athletes were paid $1000 each instead of $1,300 they agreed to collect despite the AFN under the administration of Gusau collecting $92,000 (N35m) from government to prosecute the championships.
“The IAAF (now World Athletics) paid 100 per cent for the travel and accommodation of all 25 athletes Nigeria took to Doha and gave 55 per cent rebate on the accommodation of all 14 officials Nigeria was entitled to but the AFN under Gusau gave the Secretary General $38,000 to pay allowances out of the $92,000 he got approval for from government.
“Anyway, that’s one of the questions he was called to provide answers for by the panel the board of the AFN set up to investigate various allegations against him,” said George.
The AFN acting president was particularly unhappy with the then athletes representative who abdicated his responsibility by not fighting for the rights of the athletes.
‘The two occasions we did not have problems with payment of allowances to athletes between 2018 and 2019 were at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia in 2018 and the African Games in Rabat, Morocco in 2019. This was because it was the Sports Ministry that undertook the payments and not the AFN under Gusau,” George revealed.