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Athletes battle AFN, demand allowances 18 months after Asaba 2018 Championship

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Eighteen months after representing Nigeria at the Asaba 2018 African Senior Athletics Championships, the nations’ track and field stars are yet to get their allowances. They are also being owed their remunerations for their participation at the IAAF (now World Athletics) Relays in Yokohama, Japan in May 2019 and the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar in September/October 2019.

To this end, the athletes have demanded the payment of all allowances owed by the AFN under the tenure of the impeached president, Ibrahim Shehu Gusau.

The athletes, who made their demands in Akure during the AFN All-Comers competition held at the Federal University of Technology stadium, claimed that they were either not paid part of the allowances at all or were short paid.

The Guardian learnt that the athletes held a parley with some board members of the AFN, led by its president, Olamide George, and demanded that these allowances should be paid even if the Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, has to be called upon to bail out the AFN as he did for the junior athletes who went to the Africa U-18 and U-20 Championships in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire last April.

The AFN President, George reminded the athletes that the allowances were included in the budget made by Gusau and that the government released the necessary funds for him to prosecute the events.

“But we will continue to appeal to the Sports Minister to see if he could bail us out as he did for the junior athletes,” George said. “I know it is difficult for the government to pay again for an event it has released funds for, but we will look for ways to pay while we try to make Gusau account for these monies,” he stated.

The AFN president revealed that coaches attached to the teams for these competitions were also owed allowances, including those that attended the World Athletics Championships in London in 2017.

“What we have not been able to understand and we have asked Gusau to come and explain, is how the AFN under his leadership at the time could be owing athletes for events either fully or partially sponsored by World Athletics and for which budgets were made and funds released.

“For example, World Athletics paid for full board (accommodation, feeding, and flight) for all 25 athletes Nigeria took to Doha late last year. Yet the AFN under Gusau got about $92,000 from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.

Athletes were expected to receive $1,300 each but were paid $1,000. Even for officials, the international body paid 55 percent of accommodation cost in form of subsidy,” George revealed.

Meanwhile, the AFN has assured the athletes of more competitions to get them in shape for the two major events of the year, the African Championships in Algeria in June and the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan in July/August.

“We have been encouraged by the large turn out of athletes for the All-Comers in Akure and more importantly their conduct. We are determined to give you more competitions to enable you to perform to your optimal best. We are also assuring that your entitlements will henceforth be paid promptly,” George told the athletes.

The first AFN Classics will hold at the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium in Ado-Ekiti at the end of the month.


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