The minister of youth and sports development, Mr Sunday Dare, has charged the new board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) to be focused and remain above board in the discharge of their responsibility, insisting that no national sports federation in the country is autonomous of the government.
He described the elections of Okowa-led new board of AFN as a new dawn for track and field in Nigeria, saying the conduct of the elections strictly in accordance with the 2017 constitution of the AFN as recommended by both World Athletics (WA) and the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) shows a new seed of hope.
“This is indeed a new dawn for track and field in Nigeria as exemplified by the way you conducted your elections strictly in accordance with the 2017 constitution of your Federation as recommended by both World Athletics and the Confederation of African Athletics.
“This shows a new seed of hope has germinated to replace some of the rotten seeds sowed some four years ago. You must avoid the pitfall of the past and follow not just the constitution of the AFN, but also work within the laws of our sovereign country, Nigeria.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, no sports federation is autonomous of the government. If such exists, it’s a misnomer and illegal. None of Nigeria’s 38 federations is autonomous,” Dare insisted.
Dare, who was speaking against the backdrop of the AFN parallel board elections held on Monday with the one in Abuja producing Okowa and the other in Birnin-Kebbi producing Ibrahim Gusau, maintained that the only AFN board recognised by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development was the one led by Okowa.
“Government recognises the place of their (federations) respective Constitutions and their operations, which must respect the laws of Nigeria. Our laws are clear and it is upon the laws of Nigeria that the Ministry governs the sports sector,” he said.
The minister explained that the ministry’s recognition of Okowa’s board was due to the compliance with the Constitution of the Federation and laws of the land.
“You are the legitimate governing body for the sports of track and field in Nigeria, duly elected by the Congress of the AFN and recognised by the Federal Government of Nigeria,” he said.
He assured that the Ministry would duly inform World Athletics of the new development, according to articles 7.5 and 9.1 (e) of 2019 World Athletics Constitution.
Okowa, in his remarks after the swearing-in of the board members, pledged to place priority on the welfare, training and exposure of athletes and coaches.
He also pledged to extend a hand of friendship to all factions with a view of building a strong united Federation.
“We are aware of the task ahead of us, especially now that the road to Tokyo is very close.
“We are going to make the welfare and training of our athletes and coaches a top priority,” he said.