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Dalung: Sports federation election threatened by manipulations

*This may be the worst of all elections

*Same people who manipulated last election on this too

*Where is the reform Dalung promised Nigerians?

Wailing, anger and lamentation is currently the songs of members aspiring to sports federations like Cricket, Basketball, Handball, Athletics and a few “top graded” ones over the recent action and directives of one Mrs Hauwa-Kulu Akinyemi, a Director in the Youth and sports ministry, who is alleged to have disenfranchised many interested parties. These songs may not have gotten to the ears of Minister Solomon Dalung yet.

Initially, there were all manners of protests dropping like flood in our newsroom, we investigated these allegations and in some federations posed as intending board members. This was done in the listed “top graded” federations including tennis, table tennis, volleyball, boxing, wrestling, taekwondo. We easily got the forms here but found out there are some more important federations where the politics and intrigues are more.

From what we gathered, there is a need for urgent attention and intervention by the Minister of Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung, ahead of the 30th May Sports federations elections. Our fears are grim and grounded. Our findings are very scary.

If the right things are not done and due process followed, this election may turn out to be worse than the one we had in 2013 under the watch of Bolaji Abdullahi.

Where is Basketball Secretary Austin Balewa? For instance, in Basketball, the outgoing President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Tijani Umar, is alleged to have ‘kidnapped’ to Kaduna the Secretary, Austin Balewa.

Repeated visits for three days to the federation office located at the Package B of the Abuja National Stadium revealed that nomination forms meant for collection since the 2nd of May are not available. Freudian Slip by other staffers revealed the ‘kidnap’ saga. So, where are the forms for that federation?

Unfortunately, the Secretary who is supposed to be the administrative head of the secretariat has switched side in blind support of the outgoing board. We may end up with legal suits again here after the forceful hijack like the 2013 edition.

The very objectives of the Ministry of Sports in changing secretaries weeks to the election as to maintain some level of neutrality has been defeated. Some secretaries already proven to have been caught in the dividing lines of different camps in their federations.

This is the situation in handball, cricket, athletics and two other sports federations. As civil servants, ethically these men/women are supposed to be neutral to whatever political coloration in their domain since they are neutral elements representing the interest of the Federal Government in these federations.

With the deadline for submission set for 9th May, and the cumbersome processes of filling same, the delay and evasive tactics of these secretaries is an attempt to frustrate interested parties as regards the collection, filling and submission of their forms.

Real power base in the ministry: Meanwhile, the direct allegations against the Director of Federation of Elite Athletes Department (FEAD), Mrs Hauwa-Kulu Akinyemi, under whose purview the management of the election falls showed we have a goddess who rules supreme there.

She has been accused of shunning all democratic ethos and processes as provided for in the electoral guidelines to unilaterally manipulate and choose all representatives of National Association of Women in Sports (NAWIS).

Authoritative sources swore that she chose deliberately the absence of the Minister of Sports, Solomon Selcap Dalung, who on the same day he went for the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, alongside her team members in the Nigeria Olympic Committee, a few top ranking staffers of the Ministry to decide quickly some issues which will swing the election.

Nomination of a drug cheat: To make matters worse, some candidates that were chosen to represent the National Association of Women in Sports (NAWIS) failed in meeting some basic and stated requirements in the election guidelines.

A set of protest from stakeholders point to the NAWIS representative on the incoming Athletics Federation of Nigeria board, Rosa Collins, an alleged convict for performance enhancing stimulant (doping). Are we sure that there was due diligence in the choice of NAWIS candidates. A check revealed that almost 75% of the list were recruited to make up the number.

This singular but calculated function is only an affront to the Minister’s directive of free and fair electoral process as to produce the most popular candidates across all the federations. The promised sports reform seems to have died on this anvil.

If NAWIS selections/elections is allowed as in its current state of manipulation, then, it is better we start singing the ‘Nunc Dimitis.

Certainly, the election of players’ representatives on the various boards is also up for manipulation.

Evil servants: It was Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who called civil servants evil servants. This may be true here. Meanwhile, Mr Solomon Dalung, had warned that, “we shall interfere if the processes are going to jeopardise the goals we have set” and this may be the time to interfere lest all the minutes, hours, days and weeks spent by the Godwin Kienka committee will go in vain.

This election will be postponed: A secretary who is bought on the page of the outgoing president freely boasted that the election will not only be postponed as demanded by the NOC but the term limit will be eventually removed. Check, chief Solomon Ogba will return in athletics.

These illegalities by Obasanjo’s cliché, the evil servants, if allowed to sail through without any attempt to stop them, their actions will bring the electoral process into disrepute and make it null and void. This will also add to the unpopular image they want to cut out for the minister.

Recall the minister’s initial guideline which went people on jubilation. With pressure mounted from these collaborators, he conceded grounds which were very substantial leading to many Nigerians walking out of the electoral protest.

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