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Stakeholders move to avert ‘danger’ at AFN Congress


Ibrahim Gusau

Nigerian athletes, particularly the younger ones, have witnessed repeated heartbreaks, elicited by lack of vision and state of unpreparedness by the nation in the last six months. And from all indications, there may be no end in sight, unless urgent steps are taken to nip in the bud what appears a major showdown in the Congress of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) in Abuja.

Barring any last minute change, the AFN Congress will hold on November 16. There have been burning issues in the federation since the June 13 sports federations’ polls, which saw Ibrahim Shehu Gusau emerging as president.

Among the issues expected to top the agenda is the list of sub-committee members released by the AFN secretariat without the input of most members of the board. The dust raised by Gusau’s decision to appoint Sunday Adeleye as Technical Director of AFN is yet to be settled.

The Guardian learnt that majority of the board members, who felt sidelined, have oiled their guns in readiness to ‘shoot’ from all angles in the November 16 Congress with the aim to unseat Gusau. But sources close to Gusau’s camp hinted that they were already aware of the plan.

Meanwhile, some stakeholders, who are not confortable with the cloudy weather leading to the Congress, are said to have began underground work to bring sanity to the system.

The 2017 season is one of dashed hopes and dreams for the nation’s athletes. Nigeria missed the African Junior Athletics Championships held in Algeria in June, the IAAF World U-18 Championships hosted by Kenya in July and also failed to present a team for the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas. The new board under the leadership of Gusau led a team to London for the IAAF World Championships in August.

The crisis within the AFN family notwithstanding, some athletics followers are hopeful the Congress in Abuja will put in place a platform for smooth operation for the nation’s track and field in 2018.

But the AFN cannot make meaningful progress with a divided house, so, former Nigerian hurdler, sprinter and jumper, Seigha Porbeni has decided to spearhead a reconciliation meeting between Gusau, Rosa Collins and Brown Ebewele.

“We have to do this before the Congress so that everyone can speak in one voice on the way forward for Nigerian athletics in 2018,” Porbeni told The Guardian. “I have the permission of the Chairman of Delta Sports Commission, Tony Okowa to meet with them and I am happy with the response I have gotten from Gusau, Collins and Ebewele. They have agreed to sit in a round table to talk. That is plan ‘A.’ And if we fail to make any meaningful headway, I will suggest to the AFN to shift the Congress to a later day. That will be plan ‘B.’ As it stands, we cannot pretend to say that all is well within the AFN family,” Porbeni stated.

Apart from the 2018 Commonwealth Games holding from April 4 to 15 in Gold Coast, Australia, Nigerians are also looking forward to see a ‘united’ AFN board present a formidable squad for the African Senior Athletics Championship, which the country is hosting in Asaba, Delta State, in August 2018.

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