By Ben Efe
Nigerian athletics is in tatters and those who feel the pinch most, have attributed the rot to under-funding by the Sports Ministry.
Athletics Federation of Nigeria president, Solomon Ogba is walking with his bowed, because of the mountain of debt he has been left to pay. And Coaches like Gabriel Opuana and Olu Sule are seething with anger, because of the manner Nigerian athletes are prepared towards international competitions.
“Sometimes, a feeling of regret for taking up the job of the AFN president creeps into my mind This is because I never envisaged the kind of problem on the ground,” said Ogba.
The former Delta State commissioner for sports, disclosed that his federation was swimming in debts today, because the ministry has failed to release funds approved for certain projects.
“As I’m talking to you, we have not received a kobo for all the international competitions we attended. There was the region two championships in Benin Republic, the African junior in Mauritius, the World Junior in Canada and the Africa Championships.
“The funds for these events were approved for these and other projects, but guess what? The files are reportedly missing in the Sports Ministry. And other times they asked us to retire the amounts that we spent for these competitions, how can we retire funds we did not spend? Ogba queried.
“We did not receive any funding for the camping for Commonwealth Games. We have to squeeze out money from anywhere to pay the athletes their allowances.”
And this is the aspect that troubles former national hammer champion and presentl coach, Opuana. Opuana was almost dropped from the Nigeria team to the last Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in August, because he dared to voice out his opinion on some of the action taken by officials of the NSC.
“I must say it without any fear! It is the Sports Ministry that is killing athletics.
“Take for instance the Commonwealth Games which we are going to, how much preparations did we give to our athletes and we want them to win medals?
“While the athletes were struggling with training, do you know that some sports ministry officials were sent abroad to go and scout for where the athletes will do their training tour? Eventually the athletes did not go for the training tour. Couldn’t the estacode that was paid those officials be better used to motivate the athletes?, Opuana questioned.