By Emmanuel Afonne
A board member of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Brown Ebewele, says the country is risking its chances of winning the forthcoming African Games following the choice of athletes by the federation to represent the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Games is scheduled to hold in Rabat, Morocco, from Aug. 16 to Aug. 30.
But Ebewele told NAN that the country might be preparing to fail going by the selection of under performing athletes at the trials in Kaduna.
Ebewele popularly called “Juju Man” regretted that an athlete, Riwan Olowale, who did not attend trials was used to replace Timothy Emoghene who emerged as the best athlete twice in a week in the 400m hurdle during the event.
According to him, his case is not as bad as an athlete finishing first and someone who placed third in 110m hurdle is used to replace him; which one is worse?
“Athletes that finished first and second were not picked rather the third placed person was picked. It shows that AFN has no board.
“The federation’s President, Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau and Sunday Adeleye are running the AFN; I have been fighting this matter, including the athletes funding until last week when the permanent secretary, stopped picking my phone calls.
“Two people cannot be running the federation, if there was a board. Timothy Emoghene is just coming up and should have been encouraged after winning the trials twice.
“Somebody finished first in the 110m hurdle and you did not pick him instead, you picked someone that finished third.
he said that the sports ministry and other stakeholders were aware of what I have just said; if one or two persons are not doing things correctly, why can’t the ministry intervene.
“For me, I think the ministry has compromised just because they are sharing money; they can’t afford to quarrel with each other at this stage, so they are just managing themselves.
“Unfortunately, there is no one to complain to because there is no minister and as far as I am concerned the permanent secretary is hurrying everything up before the substantive minister comes,” Ebewele said.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Olusade Adesola, dismissed Ebewele’s allegation noting that some of the athletes were desperate to go to Morocco.
Adesola explained: “Those allegations are not correct because it is the desire of athletes to be in Morocco and as such they formulate various theories.
“The selection process was devoid of human error because about five names were given to me and when we checked, they never met the criteria.
“When you go to IAAF website, you will see the record of performance of the athletes, so, anywhere you are, your performance is recorded for you in any event you participate.
“Some of the athletes that have shown consistency in their performance and made the list, especially those ones overseas. The performance of the foreign athletes on the list is very credible.
“So that is what guides the selection process, not the athletes’ presence in the camp. When you match the athletes performance with their counterparts abroad you will discover that it will be better to use the athletes offshore than the local ones,” Adesola said.
He expressed the hope that the country would emerge as the best going by the seriousness of the athletes’ preparation.
The permanent secretary further said that the various sports federations had shown high level of commitment in their preparations for the Games and boasted that the country would retain its top spot in taekwondo, badminton, track and field events and other sports.