AFN Crises Takes New Twist as Federation Breaks Out of Sports Ministry

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) is no longer under the Sports Ministry, a tweet by the Federation stated on Wednesday.

The Federation which oversees the running of athletics in Nigeria has been hit by a series of crises in the space of a year.

Two years ago, the IAAF mistakenly overpaid the sum of $150,000 (amount due should have been an annual grant to Member Federations) into the AFN account.

In May, the International Athletics body through a letter warned Nigeria would incur sanctions if the overpayment was not returned. At the time, Solomon Dalung was the Minister of Sports.

Dalung will later claim to have signed for the commencement of refunds which the current Sports Minister Sunday Dare confirmed and revealed he had completed the refund in November.

However, issues started compounding after Nigeria’s poor outing at the 2019 World Athletics Championship in Doha.

First, AFN Technical Director, Sunday Adeleye was sacked and the Body’s Secretary General, Elijah Ademu removed.

Shortly after, a faction of the AFN board summoned a parallel board meeting in Abuja and ‘suspended’ Ibrahim Gusau as the federation’s president prompting Solomon Ogba’s resignation from the board.

In a statement made available to journalists, the parallel board revealed that the AFN President was asked to quit the federation for three reasons bordering on alleged gross misconduct, abuse of power and mismanagement of funds.

The parallel meeting which held on Tuesday installed vice president Olamide George as acting president.

In a turn of event, the Ibrahim Gusau led board convened at the the Golden Tulip Hotel and Resort, Agulu, Anambra State on Wednesday announcing the sack of six of her members and declaring autonomy from the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development over alleged interference.

Resolutions at the end of the Akwa parallel meeting made available to journalists read, : At the end of the deliberations, the Congress noted the resignation of Solomon Ogba from the Board of the AFN, but rejected the said resignation.

“The congress declared its autonomy/independence from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development in line with international best practices and in conformity with the statutes of the World Athletics and the Confederation of African Athletics.

“The congress mandated the board of the AFN to immediately proceed with the process of registering the Federation with the relevant agencies;

“The congress approved the appointment of Mr Siminialayi Young Pepple, as the General Secretary for the Federation;

“The congress approved the appointment of Irikefe Kingsley Ogbogbo as the legal adviser of the federation; and approved the appointment of an External Auditor;

“The congress approved the sponsorship deal with giant sports apparel manufacturers, Puma (2019-2022) as negotiated and executed by the president and secretary-general on behalf of the federation;

“The congress approved the relocation of the Federation’s Headquarters from the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja to a befitting office in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory;

“The congress approved that the following erring members of the board of the federation be suspended for two calendar years with effect from December 4, 2019 for anti-federation activities, gross violation of the provisions of the Federation’s constitution: Olamide George, Brown Ebewele, Gabriel Okon, Rosa Collins, Sani Mohammed, and Mr Fidelis Gadzama.

“The congress considered the series of letters from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development on the removal of Mr Sunday Omotayo Adeleye as the elected Athletes’ Representative on the Board of the Federation and the Technical Director of the Federation, and rejected them in their entirety as they contravene the provisions of the Constitution of the AFN, CAA and the WA.”

Amidst the crises, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare is yet to make public statement.