By Olusola ‘Jide @jide_olusola
The minister of youths and sports development, Barr Solomon Dalung has revealed how he was ambushed by the Nigeria Football President, Amaju Pinnick in Benin.
It will be recalled that the Edo State governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki had invited Amaju to come over for a scheduled meeting while Dalung was in the state to inspect sporting facilities last month
In a chat with newsmen on Monday, the minister said after his meeting with his host, Obaseki, he was told he was to meet the NFF president which he agreed to.
“In Benin, the President of NFF ambushed me. I was just stepping out when the governor said he would do something unusual. I asked him, what is it? He said ‘can I allow him bring somebody in? I asked, who? And he mentioned his name.
“I said in view of my relationship with him, it was not possible. So the president came in and said if there was anything he had done and had angered me, they are asking for apology.
“I said we are all human beings. To err is human and to forgive is divine. So that basically took place and I think all I told them is they must respect my office as a minister.
Speaking further on the purported crisis between himself and Pinnick, he said he was only doing his job and wanted the NFF to make full account of the monies given to them for the World Cup in Russia.
“I have the responsibility and oversight that rules and regulations are compiled. All I did was to raise issue when they went public denying government funding. That was not correct as they were putting government in bad light.
“The government actually funded the activity of football in Nigeria. All the matches played during the World Cup was funded by the government. We had about N1.6bn released during the World Cup which they have been unable to give us retirement and that was misconstrued as if there was crisis.
“The crisis in football is not about leadership but narrowing of the space. In a country of about 180m people and you are narrowing the space, you know there will be trouble and throwing of stones. I think they have challenges in understanding what retirement means, he said.
He however fell short of describing the current NFF body as illegal.
“I said the election took place in view of an existing court order. Legality and illegality is a word that you use to apply, he concluded.