Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung has revealed how he was ambushed by the president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick in Edo state over the non-retirement of the sum of N1.6 billion released to the federation to cover its expenditure up to the quarterfinals of the Russia 2018 World Cup.
The Super Eagles crashed out in the group stage, following a 2-1 defeat to Argentina, and the sports minister insisted that the government would not release more funds to the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF until it duly accounts for the N1.6 billion granted them for the 2018 World Cup.
Speaking to newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, he said was ambushed by the NFF president after inspecting sports facilities in Edo state and on a visit to the Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki ahead of the 2020 national sports festival in January.
“In Benin, the President of NFF ambushed me. I was just stepping out when the governor said he would do something unusual. I asked him, what is it? He said ‘can I allow him to bring somebody in? I asked, who? And he mentioned his name.’’
“I said in view of my relationship with him, it was not possible. So the president came in and said if there was anything he had done and had angered me, they are asking for an apology. “I said we are all human beings. To err is human and to forgive is divine. So that basically took place and I think all I told them is they must respect my office as a minister.
“I have the responsibility and oversight that rules and regulations are complied with. All I did was to raise the issue when they went public denying government funding. That was not correct as they were putting the government in bad light.’’ “The government actually funded the activity of football in Nigeria.
All the matches played during the World Cup was funded by the government. We had about N1.6bn released during the World Cup which they have been unable to give us retirement and that was misconstrued as if there was crisis’’.
“The crisis in football is not about leadership but the narrowing of the space. In a country of about 180 million people and you are narrowing the space; you know there will be trouble and throwing of stones. I think they have challenges in understanding what retirement means”, he said.