A presidential candidate in last week’s elections into Nigerian sports federations has accused the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, of manipulating the process to produce his cronies and cover up alleged fraud in the federations.
In a statement he issued on Sunday, Olukayode Thomas, who ran for president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, vowed to submit a petition to the National Assembly over the matter.
Mr. Thomas, a prominent sports journalist, said Mr. Dalung assembled a biased electoral organising team and changed the delegates’ list to predetermine the outcome of the elections held in Abuja on Tuesday.
“As of 11.30 p.m. on Monday night, I was cleared to contest the election by officials of the Federal Ministry of Sports that was to supervise the election,” he said in the statement.
“It was my greatest shock on Election Day to see the name of Gloria Obajimi on the delegates’ list.
Obajimi did not contest the NAWIS election, Rosa Collins did and won. How come Obajimi, who was in the United States when the election was conducted, has become the NAWIS representative?
“I was equally shocked to see that Gad Onamugbu who did not contest the coaches’ election was the delegate for coaches.
More shocking was the name of Hammed Adio as representative of sponsors, philanthropist and ex-official.
Adio has had no business with athletics for the last 15 years.
“Long before the elections, SolidWorks, the sponsor of AFN Golden League and others activities, had been given a letter as the representative of sponsor on the board.
Even if there will be a change, why not have elections among the sponsors and let Adio contest? Why that choice in a field that is full of better qualified individuals and corporate bodies?”
Mr. Thomas further alleged that a candidate was allowed to stand for the election, in spite of not residing, working or paying tax in Nigeria, while two other candidates were not cleared to contest.
He accused the minister of compromising his position as an umpire by “flying about in the private jet of an aspirant, flying with the aspirant to Canada and other parts of the world, and he has blatantly disregarded the guidelines he set.”
He alleged that Mr. Dalung was mismanaging the sports federations’ funds and ensured at the polls that those who would check the alleged fraud did not emerge as federation presidents.
“Last year, over N600 million was budgeted for athletics and basketball. They never got the money because Dalung and the Ministry mismanaged it, claiming they used the money to buy tickets for athletes for Rio 2016 Olympic Games but we know that the IOC paid for athletes’ tickets.
“Till date, the federations have not been paid. Dalung abhors progressive change and good governance.”
On whether he would take his grievances to the appeal committee over the outcome of the election, Mr. Thomas said he saw no sense in doing that.
Instead, he vowed to take his case to higher political authorities in the land.
“With all that has happened, only a fool will do that now (petition the appeal committee). After the Athletes Representative election, there were lots of appeal against the choice of Sunday Adeleye who did not meet the requirements.
“The appeal was ignored yet he was part of the Ibrahim Gusau plot that was perfected by a director on behalf of Dalung.
Rather, I will appeal where I will get justice. I will appeal to the Acting President, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and I will want the Senate and House Committees on Sports to do a Public Hearing on Dalung and his shenanigans since he became Minister of Sports,” said Mr. Thomas.
But Mr. Dalung said he is proud to have finally democratised the sporting bodies.
In an interview on Galaxy Television, he said none of the federation presidents was elected by an electoral college of less than 54 delegates, compared to the average of 13 that used to be the norm.
‘For me, it was a success. Despite the shortcomings, you can see the beauty of democracy,”, Mr. Dalung stated.
“On that day, those that were there, you could see the bee-hive of activities that were going on, you could see networking, you could see engagement, you could see building of bridges… building of relationships.
These things will last for a long time and help national development,” the minister said.