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Uneasy calm at AFN as athletes petition minister over alleged mismanagement by national trials committee

By Gowon Akpodonor 
11 July 2022   |   2:59 am
There is an uneasy calm at the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) following a petition by Nigerian Athletics Athletes’ Commission (NAAC), which accused the just-concluded

[FILES] Nigerian athletes. PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

There is an uneasy calm at the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) following a petition by the Nigerian Athletics Athletes’ Commission (NAAC), which accused the just-concluded National Trials organising committee of mismanaging the competition, which was used to select the country’s representatives at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Oregon, United States, and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The national trials were held in Benin City, Edo State, from June 20 to 25, 2022.
 
In the petition to Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, dated June 28, 2022, and signed by NAAC’s chairman, Dr. Henry Chinedu Okorie, the athletes allege that the organising committee chairman, Solomon Ogba, treated the leadership of NAAC and the athletes with ‘great disdain’ throughout the duration of national trials in Benin City.
 
“It is worthy I bring to your notice that, with all your efforts to make sure we have the best, what we eventually got is very displeasing,” NAAC stated in the letter.

“The chairman of the committee on the just-concluded World Championships/Commonwealth Games trials, Solomon Ogba, has treated the leadership of Nigerian Athletics Athletes’ Commission (NAAC) and the athletes in general, with great disdain.
 
“Regardless, the leadership of the Commission decided to rein in the athletes to avert an embarrassing outcome for the country.
 
“We want a panel of inquiry to investigate the organisation of the trials in Benin City, with emphatic interest on the treatment of the NAAC leadership and athletes’ general welfare.

 
“Inclusion of the leadership of NAAC in the subsequent organisation of any event that will involve athletes and make a payment due to NAAC and invited athletes.
 
“We kindly request you to use your good office and swiftly resolve this problem in good time,” it stated.
 
Though it was not clear the amount of money the organising committee received from both the Federal Government and Edo State government for the event, however, The Guardian learnt that the various universities in the United States paid flight tickets for Nigerian athletes to attend the trials.
 
When The Guardian tried to contact the chairman of the National Trials organising committee, he did not pick calls put across to him. He also refused to respond to several messages sent to his mobile phone seeking his clarification on the issue.