Ebewele wants Presidency to probe Dalung’s N1.3 billion request for sports festival
• Recalls encounter with ex-president Jonathan after London 2012 Olympics
Former Sports Commissioner in Edo State and current board member of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Brown Ebewele has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate claims by sports minister, Solomon Dalung that he needs N1.3 billion to host the 2018 National Sports Festival in Abuja.
Dalung reportedly met with Buhari last week to seek his intervention in providing the N1.3 billion needed for hosting the sports festival in Abuja next month. He told State House correspondents after meeting at the Presidential Villa that the fate of the festival, which was scheduled to start on December 6, now hangs in the balance after the initial private sector partner, which was supposed to contribute N400 million of the budget backed out.
The sports festival had suffered postponement since Eko 2012.
However, Ebewele told The Guardian at the weekend that it would amount to a big fraud if President Buhari should listen to Dalung’s reqest of N1.3 billion to host the festival.
“What does Dalung needs N1.3 billion for when the various states are responsible for accommodation, feeding, transportation and medical of their athletes and officials? What is Dalung going to do with such amount of money? Is he going to build a new stadium? If we are talking of fighting corruption, such claim by the sports minister should be looked into critically. I urge president Buhari to find out what Dalung is going to do with N1.3 billion.
“To produce a quality medal for the festival is just N1,000. At most, we need 2,000 medals for the sports festival. I agree the sports ministry will take care of officiating officials. But I must say that Dalung don’t need N1.3 billion to host a sports festival,” he stated.
Ebewele, who is recuperating in Benin City after a car accident along the Lagos-Benin expressway, also reacted to a recent comment credited to former President Goodluck Jonathan that his regime was free of corruption. He described Jonathan’s comment as ‘laughable.’
“You will recall that Jonathan organized a sports retreat in Abuja after the London 2012 Olympic Games where Team Nigeria performed woefully. At that retreat held at Aso Villa, I was recognized to speak. I told the audience including the president that majority of the people who organized the retreat were responsible for Team Nigeria’s failure in London. How come they were the one organizing such a seminar?
“To make matter worse, most of the people that delivered speeches at that sports retreat were teachers in the classroom and politicians. They were not sportsmen. The sports ministry is enveloped in corruption because a majority of the people know nothing about sport.
“When Jonathan was to make his remark, he started by saying that nobody knows it all. He delivered a long speech and concluded by saying that if you make an estimate for 90 days of camping of athletes, and money was released seven days remaining for the championship, such money is met to be ‘chopped.’ That was the language he used, and am quoting him.
“I was embarrassed a few days ago when Jonathan was telling Nigerian that his government was not corrupt. A president who knows that an estimate was made for 90 days of camping, and the money was released just seven days to the Olympics should have probed the circumstances that led to such delay and failure at the Olympics. But Jonathan did nothing to stop corruption in the sports ministry, so he should not be the one preaching about a corrupt government.
“In a nutshell, the corruption is still there in the sports ministry but because of my personal encounter with Jonathan in 2012, it is obvious that he promoted corruption in our sports,” Ebewele stated.