AFN members dismiss alleged crisis, plot to impeach Okowa
There is no crisis brewing in the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), some members of the federation’s board have said. The members also dismissed reported plots to impeach the current president of the federation, Tonobok Okowa.
An online publication on Tuesday, entitled “AFN Congress gives board power to convene meetings,” suggested that some of the members were plotting against Okowa.
The publication said the plot, which started immediately after Okowa’s election as president of Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Region 2 in Ghana a few months ago, resurfaced last week immediately after he emerged as one of the vice presidents of CAA in Zambia.
It said the members were angry that Okowa did not carry them along when the U-18 and U-20 teams went to the African championships, where Nigeria finished second in Ndola.
But a member of the board, Victor Okorie, dismissed the report, yesterday, saying that there is no impeachment plot against Okowa. However, Okorie, a former 400m hurdler, said: “As far as I know, no one wants to impeach him. But the Federation needs serious restructuring. That is what I can say.”
Last year, Okorie led Team Nigeria to a glorious outing at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, United States, where the duo of Tobi Amusan and Ese Brume won gold and silver medals respectively.
He said Nigeria is yet to settle him for the personal expenses he incurred by paying for hotel and feeding of some of the athletes.
“I was told to use my personal money and get refund later, but I am yet to get it. That does not mean I will turn against Okowa. I know he is working hard to ensure the athletes attend competitions, but there are some issues he needs to look at within the board. Nobody wants to impeach him,” Okorie stated.
A former hammer thrower, Gabriel Opuana, urged AFN board members to put aside whatever bad plans they have against Okowa and help to build a virile federation.
Opuana, who is the president of the Nigeria Coaches Association, said, “we cannot afford to be having one crisis after the other in AFN. For good four years, the AFN couldn’t do much because of the impasse between members and former president, Ibrahim Gusau. This time around similar skirmishes are beginning to emerge and this is not good enough for the sport.
“We should all remember it is the athletes that suffer and it is because of them we are there on the board. Every member should be striving to get sponsorship for the AFN’s programmes… we cannot sit down and be bickering over monies that are not even there in the first place.
“Everyone should sit down and work so that the money would be flowing in. I urge members to cooperate with him and get the board working effectively for the athletes.
“We have so much work to do to bring our athletes back to where it was, but these bickering will not help matters at all,” Opuana stated. One of the coaches, who was part of Team Nigeria to the just concluded African U-18 and U-20 championships in Zambia, described board members moving against Okowa as greedy.
“They are envious of his steady rise in African athletics and also greedy. How can they be grumbling over money all the time, yet they won’t bring anything to the board? We know them and very soon, the athletes will stone them one by one,” the coach said.