Minister for Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has fulfilled his promise to pay Nigeria’s youth and junior athletes to the CAA U-18/U-20 championships in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire last April allowances owed them by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) under the leadership of the now suspended President of federation, Shehu Ibrahim Gusau.
The athletes competed in the competition under the harshest of conditions, travelling by road for three days and were denied their allowances even after the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development released N13m for the competition.
The athletes, through their acting representative on the board of the AFN, Charles Himah and the Acting President of the federation, Honourable Olamide George appealed to the sports minister to look into the athletes’ predicament.
Dare, who revealed at the start of the new year pledge that athletes’ welfare will be one of his focus in his sports development policy made good his promise and ordered that the athletes should be paid part of their allowances.
“We are very grateful to the Honourable Minister for coming to the rescue of the athletes who were subjected to indecent treatments just because they wanted to represent their country, Nigeria,” said the AFN acting president who confirmed that the athletes started receiving bank alerts last weekend. “With Mr. Dare as Sports Minister, our sports, especially track and field is surely in good hands,” he stressed and revealed further that the board of the federation will be meeting on Thursday (today) in Abuja at its Secretariat.
“We are meeting on Thursday and part of what we shall discuss will be welfare of athletes. We are not happy that we begged the Sports Minister to bail us out after approval was received for Nigeria’s participation in the Abidjan championships and money duly released.
“That was one of the reasons we asked our suspended president to come give account of that and many other financial infractions as well as breaches of the federation’s constitution,” George said.
Meanwhile, a sports philanthropist, Alhaji Ahmed Ahedjo Kaita has replaced Chief Solomon Ogba on the board of the federation. Kaita who is the chairman of Katsina State Athletics Association and has sponsored many athletes to many local competitions has taken the slot of Philanthropist/Ex-Officio hitherto occupied by Ogba since July 2017 until his resignation from the board last month.
The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development made the announcement in a press release on Wednesday in Abuja. The ministry had earlier accepted Ogba’s resignation in December 2019 and promised to announce a replacement as the body responsible for filling the slot.