AFN Crisis: Association declares ‘autonomy’ from sports’ ministry

Team Nigeria athletes

There appears to be no end in sight to the crisis plaguing the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN.

Some AFN board members, led by the embattled president of the association, Shehu Gusau, are now on a collision course with the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development who they accused of interference.

At an Extraordinary Congress held on Wednesday in Awka, Anambra State, barley 24 hours after a similar exercise was carried out in Abuja, some decisions that were earlier taken by the ministry were upturned while the federation declared ‘total autonomy’ according to ‘international best practices’.

In a communique signed by Saidu Suleman, Chairman, Resolutions Drafting Committee; Shehu Kagara (Member, Resolutions Drafting Committee) and the Secretary of the Drafting Committee, Emmanuel Okonkwo, the AFN stated that in line with international best practices and in conformity with the Statutes of the World Athletics (WA) and the Confederation of African Athletics CAA, the board will immediately proceed to register the federation with the relevant agencies.

Also, the federation slammed a two-year suspension on six of its board members, appointed a new Secretary-General and relocated its headquarters among other far-reaching decisions.

The six members of the board suspended include Olamide George, Brown Ebewele, Gabriel Okon, Rosa Collins, Sani Mohammed and Fidelis Gadzama.

The communique stated that the six were suspended for two calendar years with effect from Dec 4, 2019, for anti- federation activities.

“At the end of the deliberations, the congress noted the resignation of Solomon Ogba from the Board of the AFN, but rejected the said resignation.” The resolution of the congress made available to PREMIUM TIMES read in part.

“The congress declared its autonomy/independence from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development in line with international best practices and in conformity with the statutes of the World Athletics and the Confederation of African Athletics.

“The congress mandated the board of the AFN to immediately proceed with the process of registering the Federation with the relevant agencies;

“The congress approved the appointment of Mr Siminialayi Young Pepple, as the General Secretary for the Federation;

“The congress approved the appointment of Irikefe Kingsley Ogbogbo as the legal adviser of the federation; and approved the appointment of an External Auditor;

“The congress approved the sponsorship deal with giant sports apparel manufacturers, Puma (2019-2022) as negotiated and executed by the president and secretary-general on behalf of the federation;

“The congress approved the relocation of the Federation’s Headquarters from the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja to a befitting office in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory;

“The congress approved that the following erring members of the board of the federation be suspended for two calendar years with effect from December 4, 2019, for anti-federation activities, a gross violation of the provisions of the Federation’s constitution: Olamide George, Brown Ebewele, Gabriel Okon, Rosa Collins, Sani Mohammed, and Mr Fidelis Gadzama.

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“The congress considered the series of letters from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development on the removal of Mr Sunday Omotayo Adeleye as the elected Athletes’ Representative on the Board of the Federation and the Technical Director of the Federation, and rejected them in their entirety as they contravene the provisions of the Constitution of the AFN, CAA and WA.”

Rival Action

However, on Thursday, other AFN board members led by Mr George, who was installed as the acting president of the AFN at a separate board meeting in Abuja, visited the Minister of Youths and Sports Development in Abuja.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how six board member of the AFN and other leaders of the association met and announced the suspension of Mr Gusau. They then appointed Mr George as acting president.

On Wednesday, the visiting AFN members were hosted by the Permanent Secretary of the sports ministry, Adesola Olusade.

The ministry condemned the ‘autonomy’ declared by the Mr Gusau-led AFN.

It said it recognised Mr George-led AFN faction and urged them to secure more private funding for athletics in Nigeria

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