By Sylvanus Ofekun
The digital Sports Minister Mr Sunday Akin Dare (SAD) has the outlook of a fine gentleman with his blue suit and red tie in place always, but his latest actions are at cross roads with this deceptive mien.
Since his appointment as Sports Minister,he has used his position to intimidate and try to stamp the Athletics Federation of Nigeria AFN under the leadership of Engr. Ibrahim Shehu Gusau out of office.
In 2019, the Sports Minister who was less than a month in office disrupted team Nigeria’s participation at the Athletics World Championship in Doha,UAE by recalling the then Technical Director of the Federation, Mr.Sunday Adeleye from the World Championship. This was a directive he lacked jurisdiction over, despite the fact that Mr.Adeleye was the fulcrum of team Nigeria.
Not done yet, Mr.Dare announced the sacking of Mr.Adeleye as the Technical Director. Another faux pas! It was not in his stead to sack the technical Director of a Federation. Talk about how low a Minister can stoop to flaunt his ‘power’ as the man in charge of sports.
Before the appointment of Sunday Dare as Minister, Adeleye had already secured a deal with PUMA, a sports manufacturing company in Germany.
The PUMA contract states that Nigerian Athletics Athletes will get sports kits for 5 years to be used in all international competitions.
After all efforts to remove the AFN board under the leadership of Engr Ibrahim Shehu Gusau, including the recent board that was duly and democratically elected in Kebbi state on June 14, 2021, Mr Dare decided to arrange a parallel election in Abuja to spite the Democratically elected board led by Gusau.
He didn’t stop there. He went on to announce that Nigerian Athletics Athletes will not wear the PUMA kit which has been endorsed by the federation in the signed contract.
The Minister personally wrote to anti graft agencies including the Police and the Department of State Services DSS to investigate the deal.
The DSS wrote a report exnorating Mr.Adeleye of any wrong doing
stating in their discharge letter that;
“The Athletics Federation of Nigeria AFN entered into a valid contract with Dynamic Sporting Solutions Nigeria Limited.
“The AFN gave Dynamic Sporting Solutions Nigeria Limited the mandate to source for sponsorship on her behalf in a letter dated 4th September 2018 signed by Ademu A. Elijah, Secretary General of AFN.
“The AFN duly authorized Dynamic Sporting Solutions Nigeria Limited to deal with PUMA on behalf of the Federation in a letter dated 23 June , 2019 and signed by Patrick Estate, Head Marketing and there is no evidence that Dynamic Sporting Solutions Nigeria Limited received money meant for AFN from PUMA.
“In view therefore, it is reiterated that the FMYSD and the AFN Board should employ internal mechanism to resolve the lingering disputes,” the DSS stated.
The PUMA deal is a five-year contract with Nigeria to supply kits to Nigerian Atheletics Atheletes at no cost and with a clause that the kits be used at the Tokoyo 2020 Olympics. Failure to do so will be a breach of an international contract and the penalty thereof will be a $2.7 million dollar payment by Nigeria as compensation to PUMA.
It may be worthy of note, that a staff of the Ministry of Sports Mr.Adamu Elijah was one of the signatories to the deal.
The athletes have arrived in Tokyo looking wretched and forsaken. This has necessitated this clarion call on President Muhammadu Buhari to call his sports minister to order, lest Nigeria be embarrassed internationally for failure to keep to a contract.
He took the Athletics Federation to court. He lost in the High court and lost in the Court of Appeal and he has again taken the AFN to the Supreme Court. At whose expense? Sunday Dare is not bigger that Nigeria and not supreme to the laws of the land and therefore must abide by the country’s rules. The Presidency should compel Mr Sunday Dare to obey court orders which has ruled in favour of the Ibrahim Gusau as the authentic President of the AFN. At this point still, one has to call the minister to order.
The Presidency must wade into this problem in the Athletics Federation created by the Sports Minister Sunday Dare before this contract becomes an international embarrassment.