By Sylvanus Ofekun
The drama over the non availability of funds for the Super Eagles to prosecute the 2019 AFCON in Eygpt,as taking a new twist following the revelation from the immediate past Sports Minister,Barrister Solomon Dalung that the Nigeria Football Federation failed to capture its Africa Cup of Nations tournament budget in its 2019 programs sent to the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
Dalung’s reaction follows a story published in a newspaper on June 14, 2019 titled ‘Super Eagles’ campaign threatened by poor funding’.
In the report, NFF alleged that “the Ministry of Sports did not capture NFF’s expenditure in international competitions in the 2019 budget it submitted to the Federal Government”.
The report further stated “You also recall that the ministry of sports did not include our budget in the envelop it submitted to the Federal Government as part of the annual budget and so we are left to look for money from everywhere possible to fund our programmes.”
However, the immediate past Minister of Youth and Sports Barrister Solomon Dalung in a statement by his Special Adviser on media,Nneka Ikem Anibeze debunked the story, saying that it is falsehood which was intended to portray the Sports Ministry and the former minister in bad light.
“They were asked to submit their plans for 2019 to the office of Budget and National Planning, directly. They did not include AFCON in what they submitted to the Budget office. When the budget process was already advanced, I think it was already at the National Assembly when they discovered that they did not make provisions for AFCON.
“They approached the Ministry of Youth and Sports and I directed that they should write, so that we can apply for intervention from the office of the President. This happened towards the terminal date of the tenure of this administration .
“I also took it up personally with the President as requested, for his special intervention to save the situation but of course, the process, as we all know is slow. It has to go to the office of the President to the Ministry of Finance for advice before it will now go to Budget office and back for approval.
“It is a cumbersome process and therefore it is yet to materialize. Based on the time they initiated the process, it is not the fault of anybody but the fault of the Nigeria Football Federation which completely failed to include AFCON when they were invited by the office of Budget and National Planning to submit their program and budget for the year.”
Barrister Dalung further stated that the Office of Budget and National Planning demanded that NFF send their programs for 2019 directly to its office because Sports had in the past three years taken the better chunk of Intervention Funds meant for other unforeseen events.
“The Budget Office told them to present all their activities for 2019 so that it can be captured in the budget instead of asking for intervention funds always.
“Every self- accounting Parastatal submits its budget directly to the Budget Office because it defends its budget. NFF has Capital and Recurrent Expenditure. It also receives monthly Overhead from government so, it also submits its programs and budget to the Budget Office and defends same. The omission is from the NFF and not the Ministry.
“For NFF to state that ‘It will be a big shame if we failed to succeed at the Nations Cup simply because one individual wanted to punish the leadership of the NFF by not submitting our budget to the Federal Government,’ is false and malicious and an attempt to pin their oversight on the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
“The NFF President came back from France on Thursday and was pushing for me to put more pressure on the government. I went looking for the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance to give them any form of assistance. If they are writing stories to curry public sympathy , Nigerians need to get the correct picture of what happened.
“There was no reason for this to have happened in the first place except for NFF’s campaign and claim that they can do without government’s funding and it backfired so they should own up to their mistake,” Dalung stated in a statment.
President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick had last year in several fora claimed that the Federation is approaching self-sufficiency, following yet another mega sponsorship deal.Pinnick said the current board of the NFF is so close to its target of functioning without having to depend on funds from the government.
With the 2019 AFCON less than a week,the big question on the lips of many will be what has happened to the numerous sponsorship deals secured by the Nigeria Football Federation?
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