By Amaechi Agbo
The Nigeria Football Federation has described as lies and ‘half-truths’ former minister of sports, Solomon Dalungs statement that the crisis that erupted between him (Dalung) and the NFF was over payment of monies to Nigeria’s U-23 team during their Rio 2016 Olympics qualifying tournament in Senegal in 2015.
In a release Tuesday, the Chairman NFF Media and Publicity Committee, Hon. Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande has described as a concoction of half truths and outright falsehood a statement credited to a former Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung that crisis erupted between him (Dalung) and the NFF over payment of monies to Nigeria’s U23 team during their Rio 2016 Olympics qualifying tournament in Senegal in 2015.
“There would have been no need to respond to Mr. Dalung other than to put the record straight as we still respect his status as a former Minister of Sports. His statement was full of half truths and blatant falsehood and we wonder what the objective is at this juncture if not to create more distractions and toxic issues around Nigerian Football. Mr. Dalung’s problem was that he came into office with a pre-conceived objective of effecting regime-change in the NFF for political benefits. His failure continues to bite him hard even after he has left office.
“The NFF never said it wanted to disburse the money to the players. When he said the Ministry would do so, we gladly obliged the Ministry the account details of the players. His so-called revelation that the NFF President personally came to him asking for the money is a blatant lie.
“Till today, Mr. Dalung and the Sports Ministry refused to pay for the camping of the same team in the United States for the Olympics. Our FIFA Match Agent who arranged the camp is still being owed, and a Nigerian businessman who paid for the charter of an aircraft for the purpose of conveying the team to Brazil has not been refunded his money. Anyone can call Mr. Idowu and ask him.”
Yahaya-Kwande recalled that despite stating that he was unaware of the team camping in the USA and that the team officials might have been engaging in human trafficking, the football team won Nigeria’s ONLY medal at the Olympics in Brazil.
“That we did not respond to most of Mr. Dalung’s denigrating statements while he was in office was not for lack of what to say; we held back because of the high respect we have for our father, President Muhammadu Buhari, who appointed him. Mr. Dalung should henceforth respect himself by telling only the truth. It is not the place of a former Minister, having completed his duty tour, to be going about spreading non-factual and denigrating statements against his former subordinates simply to sustain the toxic environment he left behind or to distract the new managers of sports in Nigeria.
“For as long as we can remember, the Ministry of Sports has been disbursing money directly to players and officials of teams involved in competitions superintended by the Ministry, such as the All-Africa Games, the U23 AFCON and the Olympic Games. NFF never contemplated changing that process while Mr. Dalung was in office.”