Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Team Nigeria And A Distracted Sports Ministry

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Team Nigeria And A Distracted Sports Ministry

By Agency Report

The last batch of Nigeria’s contingents for the 32nd edition of the Summer Olympics holding in Japan’s capital city, Tokyo left the shores of the country on Wednesday.

But despite what outsiders could see as a contingent with good preparations though limitedly, the Team Nigeria to the quadrennial event has been anything but coordinated.

Apart Nigeria missing out on the men’s 4x100m, 4x400m, and women’s 4x400m and mixed 4x400m teams qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on the last day of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria Olympics National Trials at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, the ministry of youth and sports development under Sunday Dare has been embroidered on seemingly intractable and avoidable imbroglio with the Athletics Federation Federation, AFN President, Ibrahim Gusau.

The bone of contention is the Puma $2.67m signed by Gusau- led AFN with sports wear manufacturer, Puma two years ago.

The Secretary-General of the Tonobok Okowa-led Athletics Federation of Nigeria Adisa Beyioku has written to Shehu Gusau, factional head of the AFN, requesting for the release of kits from German sports apparel manufacturer Puma for the country’s athletes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

This comes after the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development declared that athletes were not going to use Puma kits for the Olympics.

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“It is common knowledge that the former AFN president, Ibrahim Shehu Gusau, with his co-travellers is desperate to extricate himself from a contract that he controversially signed the AFN into, which has now placed him in a position of trying to blackmail Team Nigeria into wearing the kits,” Dare was quoted as saying in a statement by his media office on Wednesday.

“Ibrahim Gusau has conveniently neglected to tell Nigerians that he and Sunday Adeleye signed a non-disclosure agreement with Puma, with the details unknown to the ministry and board members of the AFN.

“The minister and the ministry will not commit the Nigerian government and Nigerian athletes to a deal which the ministry has not sighted the contractual documents that ties Nigerian athletes to a five-year contract with Puma.”

The AFN under Gusau had entered the $2.76m deal with Puma on July 24, 2019 in Doha, but the controversial contract is one of the major causes of the crisis rocking the AFN, which had split the athletics body into two factions, with both Gusau and Adeleye accused of sidelining other members of the board during the signing of the deal.

In the letter to Gusau, dated July 19, which was seen by one of our correspondents, Beyioku asked Gusau to release the kits in line with agreements entered with PUMA.

“As the Secretary-General of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria appointed pursuant to Article 8.7.2 of the 2017 Constitution of the federation, I wish to remind you that you are required to handover to me all the kits and other related items you received from Puma, the German kits manufacturing company, for and on behalf of the federation, in line with the agreement you as the former president of the federation purportedly entered into with the company,” the letter read.

“The federation notes with dismay that you did not write any official letter to the Nigeria Olympic Committee about the kits nor did you contact the AFN Secretary-General, the legal custodian of the kits as enshrined in the constitution of the AFN nor the secretariat amongst other things.

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“These kits meant for Nigerian athletes were never delivered to the secretariat to be in custody of the Secretary General who is empowered under Article 8.7.2, section 4.4.3 of the AFN constitution (2017) to be the custodian of AFN properties. Rather, you held the kits in personal custody for well over a year,” Beyioku added in the letter.

He also requested for contract details of the agreement with Puma from Gusau.

“Sequel upon the above, I enjoin you to take all necessary steps to ensure that the kits and the items you received for and on behalf of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria are released forthwith to the federation, in view of the fact that you have held these items in forceful private custody instead of surrendering or releasing them to the Secretary General of the AFN, as envisaged by all concerned,” the letter added.

Beyioku’s request for the Puma kits contradicts his earlier comments on Tuesday, when he said Team Nigeria athletes would wear AFA kits at the Olympics.

“The AFN does not have any kitting contract with Puma, the German kits and equipment manufacturer… The athletes have been given the AFA kits supplied by the NOC and the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and they are raring to go,” Beyioku said on Tuesday.

The PUNCH had earlier reported a senior official of the sports ministry who spoke on the condition of anonymity, debunking earlier reports that Nigeria would use the PUMA kits at the Olympics.

“The Puma kits are a subject of criminal investigations. The Inspector-General of Police has charged those involved to court for criminal conspiracy and theft and abuse of public office over the AFN Puma kits deal. These Puma kits are the disputed ones. These Puma kits worth over a million dollars were kept in a garage for almost two years. Team Nigeria will not use Puma kits. Our relationship with Puma is severed for now until the perpetrators face prosecution,” the ministry official said.

Meanwhile, the Department of State Security last year cleared Gusau and his vice president Sunday Adeleye over corruption allegations levelled against him by the sports ministry, The PUNCH has learnt.

The sports in 2020 ministry petitioned the DSS over the AFN’s partnership deal with Puma to kit Nigeria’s track and field teams until 2023.

The DSS, in a response to the sports ministry’s petition titled “Re: Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (FMYSD), Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and Alhaji Shehu Gusau”, dated September 3, 2020, and signed on behalf of the Director General of the DSS by Bello Mustapha, was received on September 4, 2020 by the sports ministry, according to findings by our correspondent.

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In the letter, which was seen by one of our correspondents, the DSS stated, “This Service (DSS) has thoroughly investigated the matter regarding the Puma deal. The under listed findings were established:

“Athletics Federation of Nigeria entered into a valid contract with Dynamic Sports Solution Nigeria Limited.

“The AFN gave Dynamic Sports Solution Nigeria Limited the mandate to source for sponsors for Nigeria’s track and field teams on her behalf in a letter dated September 4, 2018, signed by Ademu A. Elijah, Secretary General of the AFN.

“The AFN duly authorised Dynamic Sports Solution Nigeria Limited to deal with Puma on behalf of the federation in a letter dated June 23, 2019, signed by Patrick Estate, Head Marketing; and there is no evidence that Dynamic Sports Solution Nigeria Limited received money meant for AFN from Puma.”

The DSS then urged the sports ministry to reconcile its differences with the AFN board.

“In view therefore, it is reiterated that the FMYSD and the AFN board should employ internal mechanism to resolve the lingering dispute between them,” the security outfit added.

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