Monday, 2nd October 2023

‘How Gusau held Puma deal kits for one year’

Newly obtained documents have exposed how the former president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Engr. Shehu Gusau and his associates misled the country about the competition kits for Nigerian athletes....

AFN president Ibrahim Shehu Gusau. Photo by AFN

Newly obtained documents have exposed how the former president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Engr. Shehu Gusau and his associates misled the country about the competition kits for Nigerian athletes to the just ended Tokyo Olympics, which he impounded for one year.

Gusau and the former Technical Director of the AFN, Sunday Adeleye, had claimed that the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, which oversights AFN, had prevented athletes from wearing the kits they controversially acquired from German sports apparels maker, Puma, in a deal that has remained the subject of several corruption investigations.

But findings showed that AFN Secretary, Prince Adeniyi Beyioku, had on July 19, shortly before the start of the Games requested Gusau to hand over the kits and deliver same to the recognised AFN secretariat at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.

In the letter, titled “Request for The Release of Kits and Other Items/Documents Received on Behalf of Athletics Federation of Nigeria from Puma,” Beyioku said, “The Federation notes with dismay that you did not write any official letter to the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) about the kits neither did you contact the AFN Secretary General, the legal custodian of the kits as enshrined in the constitution of the AFN nor the secretariat amongst other things.

“These kits meant for Nigerian athletes were never delivered to the secretariat to be in custody of the secretary general, who is empowered under Article 8.7.2, section 4.4.3 of the AFN constitution (2017) to be the custodian of AFN properties. Rather, you held the kits in personal custody for well over a year.

“Recall that the last Board of the AFN enquired from you about the contract following media reports that the Federation had signed an agreement with PUMA but you refused and or neglected to disclose the details to the Board members hiding under the confidentiality clause, which we believe does not apply to the board members on whose behalf you purportedly negotiated the said contract,” the letter read.

Gusau responded to the AFN secretary general on July 22, the eve of the Olympics opening ceremony, indicating that he would not recognise the Federation’s secretariat while continuing to present himself as the president, more than one month after his tenure expired.

He wrote, “Note that the kits and apparels delivered by and received from PUMA for use by Track & Field Athletes at the 2020 Olympics Games have been sent to Tokyo, Japan and would be delivered to the athletes for their use at the Games.”

Checks however revealed that Gusau dumped the kits with clerical staff of the NOC in Lagos. A staff, who was not among those that received the goods, said, “The former president really pressured us to accept the consignment but some of us have to sneak away because there was no way we could forward the items to Tokyo at such 11th hour.

“I don’t know what played out, but I later realised that some those items were left behind and some people made videos of them to show that they were delivered,” the source revealed.

Meanwhile, Gusau’s response in the letter contradicts the claims that he, Sunday Adeleye and their associates have been making in the media by creating the impression that the Puma kits were meant for Team Nigeria when AFN can only kit track and field athletes.

The ministry had in a statement by its Director Federations and Elite Athletes Department, Dr. Simon Ebohjaiye, clarified that Federations were responsible for providing competition wears while “The General Wears category is the responsibility of the Ministry. The kitting of Team Nigeria for various National, Continental and International sporting events has always been the responsibility of the Ministry and this was no different for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The director said, “For the records, Team Nigeria was properly kitted for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with the Ministry procuring a 9-item bag of kits for each of our athletes and officials. For the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, each of the Sports Federations procured the Competition Wears for their respective teams, in relation to their specific needs.”