Nigeria track and field athletes have demanded the payment of all allowances owed by the impeached President of Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Ibrahim Shehu Gusau. The athletes made the demand in Akure during the AFN All-Comers competition held at the Federal University of Technology stadium.
At a parley with some board members of the AFN led by its acting President, Olamide George, the athletes demanded that these allowances should be paid even if the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has to be called upon to bail out the federation like he did for the junior athletes who went to the Africa U-18 and U-20 Championships in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire last April.The athletes listed some of the allowances they are owed to include that for the African Championships held in Asaba in August 2018, the IAAF (now World Athletics) Relays in Yokohama, Japan in May, 2019 and the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar in September/October 2019.
They revealed they were either not paid some at all or were short paid.In his response, AFN President George reminded the athletes that these allowances were included in the budget made by the impeached president and government released the necessary funds to prosecute the events. ‘We will continue to appeal to the Sports Minister to see if he can bail us out like he did for the junior athletes. I know it is difficult for government to pay again for events it has released funds for but we will look for ways to pay while efforts are made to make Gusau account for these monies,’ said George.
The AFN president revealed that coaches attached to the teams for these competitions are also owed allowances, some since the World Athletics Championships in London in 2017. “What we have not been able to understand and we have asked Gusau to come and explain is how the AFN under his leadership at the time could be owing athletes for events either fully or partially sponsored by World Athletics and for which budgets were made and funds released.
“For example, World Athletics paid for full board (accommodation, feeding and flight) for all 25 athletes Nigeria took to Doha late last year.
Yet the AFN under Gusau got about $92,000 from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development. Athletes were expected to receive $1,300 each but were paid $1,000. Even for officials,the international body paid 55% of accommodation cost in form of subsidy,’ revealed George.The athletes have also been assured of more competitions to get them in shape for the two major events of the year viz the African Championships in Algeria in June and the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan in July/August.
“We have been encouraged by the large turn out for the Akure event and more importantly the conduct of the athletes. We are determined to give you more competitions to enable you perform to your optimal best while assuring that your entitlements will henceforth be paid promptly.”The first AFN Classics will hold at the Oluyemi Kayode stadium in Ado-Ekiti at the end of the month,