…We have resolved this matter – Dalung
By Amaechi Agbo
The war of words going on between the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN, and the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development over the ‘missing’ $130, 000 appears not to be over yet despite reports that the matter has been amicably resolved.
Following reports that the embattled AFN President, Ibrahim Gusau ‘mismanaged’ the sum of N39 million released by the ministry as part payment of the $130, 000, Mr Gusau had come out to debunk the report claiming the money was judiciously utilised.
Speaking with journalists recently, Mr Gusau said that the N39 million released by the ministry was used to purchase kits for 86 nigeria athletes during the 2018 Warri Africa Senior Athletics Championship hled in Delta state adding that he got approval to use N30 million part of the money to buy the kits and then used the remaining balance to offset 50% of the athletes and officials’ allowances.
“The N39 million was never given to me. I can tell you the incident that happened in Asaba 2018. It pains me to tell you that Asaba 2018 was a loss for me because the AFN was not officially involved in the championship. The Delta state government took over the responsibility to host 54 African countries for the Senior All Africa Championship in the state. it was supposed to be Lagos State but it failed and Delta came in. There was an agreement between the Confederation of Africa Athletics and AFN; at that time the federation donated its powers to the LOC which we were not on board then. Therefore, there were no duties for AFN.
“The event took place from August 1st to 5th, 2018 and we had 86 athletes who are going to contest for Nigeria. I almost had a demonstration on my hand because the Nigeria athletes almost abstained from competing for Nigeria. Two things came up; their kits and allowances. These issues came up and the Permanent Secretary confirmed the approval of N30 million for the kits. I have the record where they agreed that N30 million should be used to purchase kits for the 86 athletes and officials. Now there was N9 million left. The kits were delivered to some of the athletes who were already in the venue and they started wearing the kits on the tracks.
“On the allowances for 86 athletes and officials, we had to plead again to avoid the embarrassment. Don’t forget we had embarrassing issues at the arrival of athletes in the airports and after averting that, we now have allowances issues in our hands.
“The N9 million balance of the N39 million was only able to pay 50% of the athletes’ allowances. And that 50% I have been writing and writing. Athletes have been asking me every now and then about the balance of their allowances.
“For those who know me and for the benefit of those who do not know me, N39 million is nothing to Ibrahim Gusau. My integrity is better than the money being discussed. I have been a sports activist and sponsor for more than two decades and a half. I have over 15 events that we have held. I went to Ghana for ECOWAS Junior championship and I had to transport the boys on road after pleading for them to release fund. Nigeria won the championship with about 17 gold medals.
“In Abidjan we also went by road. From transportation, feeding to payment at borders, I found way of offsetting them to make things works. We presented about 92 athletes in that event.
“I have no skeleton in my cupboard therefore I am making myself available and inviting all the investigative agents in Nigeria – ICPC, Police, EFCC – to investigate the Ministry and the AFN to determine if I have been found wanting in this issue. My name have been battered everywhere. I have my evidences; I do not approve any payment or schedules. The two people in charge of accounting in the federation are from the ministry and of course, you know that their loyalty is with the ministry.
“I am a progressive and I don’t like to fight. It took me long to come out because as I thought it was a bad joke. But it got to this stage that my name is being tarnished for a meagre amount that means nothing to me, I felt I need to come out with the facts. I have challenged the EFCC or any other person to come because I know that I am home and dry. I have all the evidences and papers that would prove my innocence which will exonerate me. Yes, I invite the organisations to come, either the EFCC, police, ICPC to come,” he said
Meanwhile, the immediate past minister of Youth and Sorts, Barrister Solomon Dalung has disclosed that issues surrounding the ‘missing’ $130, 000 have been amicably resolved between the federation and the International Associations Athletics Federations, IAAF.
“On the issue of IAAF, I think it was mismanaged and so many interpretations have been made to it, the former minister said.
“But the position about it today is that the issue has been resolved amicably between the federation and the IAAF leadership. The issue of stealing is an exaggeration of facts by some persons for their hatred for personality. The intention of using the word “stealing” is to try to demean the person of the minister but nothing was stolen. Nothing was even spent out of context. The amount was meant for Warri Golden Relay which was effectively hosted. IAAF was even in Warri. The point of departure was that when the money was released to Nigeria on the 11th May, 2017, the account of AFN was credited. On the 19th, the director of finance and administration of IAAF wrote the federation to say ‘we have credited your account with $150, 000 grant to support the Warri Relay.’
Paragraph two of the letter stated that ‘this amount corresponds with the grant approved for you.’
Two months later, an unsigned document was sent to the federation and paragraph one said ‘we were informed by CAA that we mistakenly transferred $150, 000 to your account instead of $20, 000. Therefore, can you ask your bankers to try to resolve the issue?’
“When this issue came to the attention of the ministry, we met with the leadership of IAAF and we agreed that government will pay 50 per cent of that amount. The ministry approved more than 60% of the money because N39 million is about $124, 000. Which was given to the federation to refund it to IAAF. Unfortunately, the federation, in its own wisdom felt that the money should be diverted to something else. So that is the basis of this crisis that has misled so many people to write and write. If the commitment of the ministry were met by the federation, we would have not been in this problem.
“But of course, in our discussion with President Sebastian Coe, (IAAF President) these were made clear to him and he understood, and appreciated that as a partner, there is no need to ruffle the relationship therefore, let us take it up from there and see how we will remedy it. We have taken steps to ensure that the issue is resolved amicably,” the former minister said.