AFN board divided over IAAF’s ‘missing’ $135, 000
• Deadline Expires On Tuesday
• We Have A Clearer Picture Now, Says Ebewele
• Gusau Absent At Okpekpe Road Race
With four days to the expiration of deadline given by world athletics body, IAAF over delay by Nigeria in refunding the excess $135, 000 erroneously paid to the country two years ago, there seems to be a sharp division among board members of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).
The IAAF in 2017 mistakenly sent $150,000 to the AFN instead of the annual $15,000 it usually gives to its affiliates. On discovering the error, the world athletics body wrote to the AFN demanding the return of $135,000, which is the excess amount.
However, after two years, the AFN has not refunded the money, prompting the IAAF to issue a deadline on May 13 threatening to sanction the country after two weeks if the money was not refunded.A board member of the AFN, Brown Ebewele told The Guardian yesterday that their meeting with Sports Minster, Solomon Dalung on Tuesday in Abuja had given them a clearer picture of what transpired on the IAAF money.
“The meeting on Tuesday has actually given us a clearer picture on what happened to the IAAF money,” Ebewele said in a telephone chat with The Guardian yesterday. “Before now, the impression some of us had was that it was the sports ministry that spent the money. But on Tuesday, the minister told us that he actually approved N39 million for Gusau to be refunded to IAAF after his meeting with them (IAAF officials) during Asaba 2018 Africa Senior Athletics Championship.
“The minister stated that he made it clear to Gusau that the money he approved was for IAAF, but not for purchase of kits as we are being made to understand. I am very sure that it was after Gusau collected the N39 million that this issue of purchasing kits for the athletes came up. Even at that, no other board member of the AFN was aware of such approval,” Ebewele stated.
The Technical Director of the AFN, Sunday Adeleye, had explained to The Guardian on Wednesday that the issue of how the IAAF money was spent was never discussed at the meeting with the sports minister. “We actually asked for money to purchase kits for Team Nigeria about eight days to Asaba 2018 Championship. Don’t forget that the IAAF money transaction was done in 2017. So, how come the money was still there in 2018?
“When it was obvious that our athletes would face an international embarrassment due to lack of kits, we approached the Permanent Secretary for money. He said we should put our request in writing, which we did. Then, the AFN Secretary General Amaechi Akawo was already in Asaba working with the LOC for the championship.
“But when the file got to the table of Tayo Oreweme (Director, Federation of Elite Athletes Department (FEAD) in the Sports ministry), she insisted that such requests should be made by the AFN secretary. So Akawo had to come down to Abuja to apply for the money. I was in Europe for the kits, and that was what saved us from international embarrassment.”It was learnt yesterday that the AFN boss, Gusau, might not attend today’s Okpekpe Road Race near Auchi, Edo State.