The main actors in the IAAF’s ‘missing’ $135, 000 saga yesterday revealed how the money was ‘spent’ by the sports ministry and some key officials of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).
The IAAF in 2017 erroneously sent $150,000 to the AFN instead of the annual $15,000 it usually gives to its affiliates.
On discovering the error, the world athletics body wrote to the AFN demanding the return of $135,000, which is the excess amount it paid the Nigerian body. However, after two years, the AFN has not refunded the money, prompting the IAAF to threaten to sanction the country.
On Tuesday, Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung and 11 AFN board members held a marathon meeting in Abuja to among other things, find ways of avoiding the possible IAAF sanctions.
A source at the meeting told The Guardian yesterday that the sports minister was angry with two top officials of the AFN, claiming that he was the main target in the IAAF ‘missing’ $135,000 debacle.
“The minister was really angry because he felt the AFN deliberately leaked IAAF’s letter to the media to ensure he did not return as minister. He said that he approved N39.9 million (about $108,000) from the IAAF money for the AFN to procure kits.
The minister said that when the AFN requested for money to purchase the kits, he told Ibrahim Gusau that the only money available in the ministry was the IAAF money, which he approved. He was angry that Gusau did not carry other board members of the AFN along.
“The minister also stated that he approved N13 million to the AFN for Nigeria’s participation at the last African U18/U20 Athletics Championship in Cote d’Ivoire. You can see how two persons in the AFN board have been operating like a secret cult,” the source stated.
Several calls made by The Guardian to the AFN President, Gusau, yesterday were not answered. He also did not respond to a test message sent to his mobile phone.
However, the Technical Director of the AFN, Sunday Adeleye, told The Guardian that the issue of how the IAAF money was spent was never discussed at the meeting on Tuesday.
He said: “There was never a time the minister told anybody at that meeting how IAAF money was spent. We actually asked for money to purchase kits for Team Nigeria about eight days to Asaba 2018 African Senior Athletics Championship. Don’t forget that the IAAF money transaction was done in 2017. So, how come the money was still there in 2018?
“When it was obvious that our athletes would face an international embarrassment due to lack of kits, we approached the Permanent Secretary for money. He said we should put our request in writing, which we did. Then, the AFN Secretary General Amaechi Akawo was already in Asaba working with the LOC for the championship.
“But when the file got to the table of Tayo Oreweme (Director, Federation of Elite Athletes Department (FEAD) in the Sports ministry), she insisted that such requests should be made by the AFN secretary.
So Akawo had to come down to Abuja to apply for the money. I was in Europe for the kits, and that was what saved us from international embarrassment. But I must say that it is not true for anybody to say that we used the IAAF money to buy kits. No, it is not true. And it is not also true that we got N13 million for the trip to Abidjan. The issue of the IAAF money is receiving attention. It will be taken care of soon,” Adeleye stated.
The Guardian learnt that two board members, Rosa Collins and Dare Esan were deliberately excluded from Tuesday’s meeting in Abuja. No reason has been given for their exclusion