Host country, as it is the practice, took care of the accommodation and feeding of all athletes and accredited officials at the Rio Olympic Games that will end tomorrow in Brazil. Brazil also took care of the transportation of all the athletes from the Games Village to different venues and back. Organisers flew all teams that their venues were outside Rio, like the soccer teams.
What then did Nigeria’s sports ministry spend the N2.5billion President Mohammadu Buhari approved and released for the Rio Olympics on? What is left of the amount?
These were the questions a top official of the Nigerian contingent is asking here. He wants Buhari to insist on accountability, so that, what is left, can be returned to government and judiciously spent to develop sports in the country.
His words: “What is happening here is shameful. They did not pay athletes’ training grants and they have said they would not pay as training had ended as at the time money was released. Some athletes could have been motivated if, on arrival here, they were paid what they spent to prepare themselves for the games. Now, President Buhari must insist on accountability. The EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) may come in.
“The government or EFCC should ask every sports association that sent athletes here to account for what they were given. $150 was daily allowance, was paid to each athlete here and we had 75 athletes and some officials. The allowances are for two weeks or highest three weeks. So, what did they spend N2.5 billion on, especially, as our stay here is the responsibility of the organisers?
“President Buhari must make good his promise to fight corruption on all fronts and sports cannot be overlooked. In fact, the President said that any person who does not have business at the Olympics should not be sponsored by the government. But they have flouted President Buhari’s orders or directives.
“All manner of people are here on the sponsorship of the sports ministry. Some lawmakers are here on the sponsorship of the ministry. They should find out if it is so in other countries. Are they making laws here? Must they be on the sponsorship of the ministry if they must be here? There are aides of government officials who have no business here.
“How is the ministry sponsoring people to the Olympics when athletes have not been paid training grants? How do you motivate the athletes? We had the worst preparation in our history of the Olympics and those who tried on their own to train have not been paid little sums as training grants to motivate them. Too bad, too bad for Nigeria.
“The kits for the Olympics just landed on Wednesday night. We were buying some kits here. They said that paying customs duty delayed everything. That is poor planning. It is so because we have failed to professionalise sports from administration to its organisation and participation. We cannot grow sports through the sports ministry way.
“The National Sports Commission must return and made to have better structures to run sports professionally. What happened before we came here and what is happening here shouldn’t be the trademark of a country like Nigeria. It is shameful. Our President must probe the funds released for the Olympics and the money earlier released for All Africa Games and Olympics preparation.”, said the official.
Another official put his this way: “I support the call for accountability. Soon, one of us here will be spoiling to contest governorship election. That’s his target and not development of our sports.”