A disenfranchised candidate from last Tuesday’s elections into the board of National Sports Federation, Olukayode Thomas, over the weekend, accused the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, of manipulating the process to favour his cronies because he abhors progressive change and good governance.
Thomas, who contested for the position of President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), said Dalung not only assembled a biased electoral organising team, he also changed the delegates’ list.
“As of 11.30pm on Monday night, I was cleared to contest the election by officials of the Federal Ministry of Sports that were to supervise the election. 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 cooperate bodies?”
Thomas said he could not believe that Fidelis Gadzama who is not resident in Nigeria, does not work in Nigeria and does not pay tax in Nigeria is given clearance to contest while Haruna Bako and Titus Ayodele were not cleared to contest.
Thomas posited that indications that the election will not be free and fair emerged long ago, “when the man that will supervise an election that is months away is 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, you know something is wrong”.
Thomas said Dalung did not want the emergence of federation Presidents that will question his mismanagement of federation funds, “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 will petition the appeal committee Dalung set up, “With all that has happened, only a fool will do that now. 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 Committee on Sports to do a Public Hearing on Dalung and his shenanigans since he became Minister of Sports.” Said Thomas