Fed Govt. must probe N3bn High Performance Centre

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President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Solomon Ogba has taken a swipe at former minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, saying that what Nigeria was reaping today, in terms of results was a product of what the former minister sowed.

Solomon Ogba
Solomon Ogba

Reacting to a call for his sack by Abdullahi for non-performance, Ogba said, “Bolaji Abdullahi is the architect of the problems haunting Nigerian sports, and Athletics in particular.”

Ogba explained, “ït is on record that Bolaji Abdullahi was the first Minister of Sports to stop giving subventions to sports federations. He crippled the operations of the various federations by starving them of funds. Some can’t even afford a photocopy machine or internet in their offices.”

He recalled that it was during Abdullahi’s reign as sports minister that the government of President Goodluck Jonathan approved the establishment of a High Performance Centre.

“After the London Olympics, President Goodluck Jonathan, alarmed by the level of failure of Team Nigeria which returned without a medal, held a Presidential retreat on sports. The establishment of a High Performance Centre was recommended which the President approved. “N3bn was requested for the project but an initial N1.5bn was released. Some money was released again for the project before the end of Jonathan’s administration. What happened to that money?” Ogba asked, insisting that the federal government must probe the High Performance Centre project.

He accused Abdullahi of employing a rookie as coach for the Centre which was supposed to handle elite athletes for international competitions. “Abdullahi employed a coach who had never been to the Olympics, Eric Campbell as one of the coaches in charge of athletics. It’s wrong to employ such a man for such a high-calibre centre.”

Looking back at the performance of Team Nigeria athletes at the recently concluded Olympics, Ogba said Nigeria could not have won anything based on the preparations the athletes had before the games. “Before the Olympics, I told the press that we won’t win any medals in Rio. I did not rule out the element of luck, but if by our preparations alone, I said it categorically clear that we were not prepared well enough for medals. We lacked the cutting edge,” the AFN boss said.

He however consoled himself with some of their performances at Rio Olympics. “Let’s put records straight. We were the only sports, who despite all the odds, were able to qualify for the semifinals in seven events and two finals. No other sports other than football achieved what we attained in Rio,” Ogba said.

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