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‘Stop misleading Nigerians, government did not release N1b for D’Tigress’

By Christian Okpara
20 October 2021   |   3:36 am
Stakeholders in Nigeria’s basketball have cautioned persons ‘peddling unfounded allegations’ that the Federal Government released the sum of N1 billion for the senior women ....

D’Tigress

Stakeholders in Nigeria’s basketball have cautioned persons ‘peddling unfounded allegations’ that the Federal Government released the sum of N1 billion for the senior women national team to get their facts right in the interest of the game.

Recently, some persons went to town with the allegation that the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) and the Ministry of Sports have misappropriated N1 billion released by the Federal Government for the D’Tigress. They took the hint from a former Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, who went on air to claim that the said amount was released by government to take care of the activities of the women team.

Reacting to allegation yesterday, a source in the Ministry of Sports told The Guardian that the N1 billion approved by President Muhammadu Buhari was solely for the men’s team, D’Tigers, as requested by the ministry.

The source, who pleaded anonymity, added that the money is neither missing nor lodged in any escrow account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as alleged by Dalung.
 
He said Dalung got his facts wrong, adding: “It is most unfortunate that a former Minister of Sports can come on air to allege misappropriation when documents he is bandying around suggest otherwise.

“Dalung made a N1. 91 billion request to Mr. President for the male basketball team as outlined in an August 20, 2018 letter he wrote to President Buhari. In the letter he also referenced the NBBF (reference number NBBF/FMY&S.4/2018/Vol. XIII/32) dated August 6, 2018 on the subject matter.

“How he could come on air to now allege the money was for D’Tigress, the national women basketball team, beats me.”

Also speaking on the issue, a member of the immediate past NBBF board, who also pleaded anonymity, explained that the Federal Government released N1 billion out of the N1.9 billion requested by the ministry on August 19, 2019, which is four months after Dalung left office as sports minister and a few days before Sunday Dare was sworn in as his successor.

He added: “The money was credited to the sports ministry’s service wide vote for international sporting activities.

“This created a problem for the Sports Ministry as the NBBF was not captured in our 2019 budget. Dare, who assumed office two days after the money was released, insisted the NBBF must get the lion share of the money and at a meeting held with the permanent secretary of the Sports Ministry and the NBBF, the sum of N850 million was approved for the NBBF, while N150 million was used to prosecute other international sporting activities.

“The sports ministry had to write the finance ministry for the restoration of the N1 billion released for international sporting activities, which is still pending.”           

The source showed the N850 million payment voucher to The Guardian to prove that the amount was transferred to the account of the NBBF at the CBN that same month.                         
 
Another document, cited by The Guardian, showed the audited account acknowledged the receipt of another N744 million this year from a 2019 request of N1. 6 billion made to the sports ministry and signed by immediate past NBBF President, Musa Kida, solely for the D’Tigress.               

The request was made in a letter dated August 19, 2019 and the audited account showed both the income and expenditure of monies paid into the NBBF account.      A former NBBF board member told The Guardian that the $2.2 million sponsorship fee paid by Kwese for the basketball league and another money paid by Peak were not captured in the audited account because the money was not warehoused in the NBBF account.