All seems not to be well among the board members of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria over the $150,000 grants erroneously given to the country in 2017 by the International Association of Athletics Federations, IAAF.
Over the past few weeks, the reports were rife that the IAAF would ban the country from international competitions if the money was not refunded back within a stipulated time.
However, prior to the departure of the immediate minister of youths and sports development, Barrister Solomon Dalung from office on Tuesday, he held series of meetings with the AFN board members to seek ways and prevent Nigeria from being banned by IAAF.
In one of the closed meetings held by both parties, it was revealed that Dalung had spoken to the IAAF’s president, Sebastian Coe on phone to reaffirming the country’s willingness to refund the money.
In a chat with the Technical Director of the AFN, Sunday Adeleye, he slammed the former minister for meeting with selected members of the board who later demanded the Federation president, Ibrahim Gusau to step down.
“We feel we should let Nigerians know the true picture and what is happening in the Athletics Federation of Nigeria because the minister has thrown a lot of people into confusion right now saying different stories. We have a different story from the ministry and another one from the federation.
“The issue of $150,000 has actually put us in trouble because we exposed where the money is and of course it was shocking to see few people invited to the minister’s office.
“I barged into the meeting and saw four persons saying they are the executive board of the AFN. There are 13 persons constitute the board and when you have 3 or 4 persons signing that they want to suspend the president and we are saying it is not proper because they have the backing of the minister. Why the sudden approval of the suspension because the minister is leaving,” he queried.
Adeleye however stated that the remaining members of the AFN board have passed a vote of confidence on the Gusau while berating the former minister for agreeing to pay up the missing money.
“We have already passed a vote of confidence on our president and we want to move athletics forward.
“Since we came on board in 2017, the ministry never gave us a dime. It is not true the ministry gave us N39m. N30m was released for us for the procurement of kits for athletes for Asaba 2018.
“So, the minister that is saying that the federation misappropriated the money, why he did he agree pay 50% of the money? The minister is trying to leave behind controversy if not why call four members out of 14 for a closed-door meeting?
“And according to the constitution, only the president can call for a meeting or congress. Where did they come up with their meeting and resolution to suspend the president and take over the board while subjecting him to investigation. Was any fund released to him?
The technical director further revealed that the AFN president never met the contentious money in the board’s account upon assumption of office in July 2017.
He also revealed that the sole signatory to the AFN account where the money was paid into is a staff of the sports ministry.
“Ibrahim Gusau never met the money in AFN account. The people who know about it have already agreed to pay back 50% of the money to IAAF which includes the ministry.
The money was paid into AFN account but the sole signatory to the account is a staff of the ministry and the person is Amaechi Akawo.
Meanwhile, the AFN vice president, Hon Olamide George in a seperate chat with our reporter, accused his boss, Gusau of misappropriating the funds for his personal use while announcing that he is suspended from office pending when the investigation against him is concluded.
“We called for an emergency board meeting over what is going on in the federation. We are all aware of misappropriation of funds and we are all aware of the IAAF $150,000 erroneously paid into our account.
“We are also aware of the crisis between the athletes and the federation. We also aware of the funds approved by the ministry without the consent of the board.
“These are issues that have generated crisis in the federation. We decided to call for an emergency meeting because the president has failed t call for the meeting. but in line with the constitution, if the president fails to call for meeting, the vice president has the capacity to call for such meeting.
“We have met and resolved that the president, Hon Ibrahim Gusau should step aside pending the investigation by the board.
The VP also confirmed the part payment of the funds back to the IAAF by the erstwhile sports minster.
It was also gathered that Dalunf approved N39 million to Gusau to be refunded to the IAAF shortly after the Asaba 2018 African Senior Athletics Championships.
Instead of following the minister’s directives, George said Gusau and Adeleye allegedly used the money to purchase kits for Nigerian athletes without informing other board members
“It is important to know that the ministry has paid part of the money to the AFN. The sad part is the board was not even aware that the ministry had paid some money back until when the minister called for a meeting and he opened up and the president could not deny.
It can be stated here that the missing funds has divided the AFN board members while the threat ban has been lifted off Nigeria as the country will be participating at the 12th African Games taking place in Rabat and Casablanca, Morocco from 19 -31 August, 2019.