The Nigeria Football Federation, NFF has shot down the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung’s defence that he knew nothing about the national U-23 team’s trip to Atlanta, USA preparatory for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
And to prove that the minister was briefed about the trip and re quest put to him to allow the federation take extra members of delegation who will make the team’s work easier, as against his allegation that they it padded the team list, the letter was sent to Sports Vanguard for verification. The letter which was signed by the General Secretary of the NFF, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi was dated May 9, 2016 with Reference Number NFF/OGS/GEN/Vol. XVI/129 and received at the office of the minister on May 10, 2016 duly signed for.
The letter also copied to the Permanent Secretary of the ministry has as its heading, “Conveyance of Nigeria’s U-23 Team’s Program ahead of Rio Olympics and Request on Extra Members of Delegation”.
Informing the minister that the sports ministry would be responsible for the entire bill of the team’s camping programme and friendly matches in the United Kingdom, the NFF wrote “This is to respectfully convey to the Honourable Minister, the program of the Nigeria U-23 Football Team, also known as Dream Team, with regards to proposed camping in the United Kingdom and the United States of America ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.”
It also informed the minister that the organisers of the Invitational Tournament in South Korea told the NFF that they would cater for 20 players and 10 officials during the friendly matches.
As a result, the NFF asked the minister to “approve for release by the ministry the attached estimate (about N22.5m and $471,052 for the Ist phase in the UK and N1.7m and $154,603 for the 2nd phase in the USA) for the entire program in the UK and the bill for the extra 10 players and one official in the USA, as head coach (Siasia) intends to make the trip with 30 players and 11 officials.
The NFF would however, not confirm if the minister gave the approval after receiving the letter as all calls and messages put across to the president, Amaju Pinnick and General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi were not replied.
Meanwhile a member of the team told Sports Vanguard that “I can hit my chest and and say it’s only our football team that had the fewest accompanying officials, we never went with 35 officials. If you can, ask him(the minister) how he appointed for the team a Welfare Officer, who is (President) Buhari’s late brother’s son, whose mother is the CoS to the First Lady by name Modibo.”
Another source said because Siasia refused to include one player the minister brought to him in the team because the boys was not good enough, he incurred the wrath of the minister who then went onto deny knowledge of the team’s presence in the USA.
However, when the minister heard of the team’s travails in the US he said, “I am hearing the story of our U-23 team camping in the USA for the first time now; we don’t know who took them there and what their mission there is. It’s like when somebody goes to market and have problem, then, he will hold the ministry responsible.”