ATHLETES of the Ondo State Sports Council, on Monday, protested non-payment of camp allowances by the management of the council, after the state government had reportedly approved funds for the purpose.
The athletes, who paralysed activities at the sports council, accused the General Manager, Wande Fabuluje and the state Commissioner for Sports, Dotun Owanikin, of incompetence and shortchanging them of their camp allowances.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the National Sports Festival, billed to have started on March 20, was postponed by the Federal Government, as part of measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in the country.
The leader of the protesters and Chairman of the labour union in the council, Moses Usifo, said that the general manager had promised the athletes their allowances last Thursday.
“Since 2018, we have been facing a big build-up of fraud in the Ondo State Sports Council, and we say enough is enough. In 2018, government released N75 million for the purchase of equipment, out of which N25 million was embezzled.
“We wrote a petition and some people were begging us to withdraw it; but we are still standing on the petition. We want to use this medium to plead with the Ondo State government to take proper action on the incompetence of the general manager of the sports council.
“Government has released money for the National Sports Festival. While athletes had been decamped, they have not yet been paid since Friday.
“The general manager told us that the money would be paid on Thursday but they have yet to pay. The athletes are stranded and angry; hence our protest,” he said.
Osifo said that the council needed competent hands who knew much about sports management, adding “there is nowhere in the world where camp will be disbanded without athletes being paid.”
Also, the state Basketball Coach, Fisayo Bello, said that the athletes were supposed to be at home with their parents, as ordered by government due to COVID-19 threat, adding, however, that transportation and other camp entitlements had not been paid.
Bello said that Owanikin had promised the athletes that all allowances would be paid before the close of the camp.
He accused the general manager of misappropriation of funds since he assumed office in 2018, stressing that the state athletes were tired of him being the head of the sports council.
“The National Sports Festival 2020 has been postponed and the commissioner gave his word that every allowance should be paid.
“This was why they cancelled so many sporting activities. By now, athletes are still in camp without being fed, while no allowance has also been paid.
“Meanwhile, the funds he (the governor) has been releasing, he (General Manager) has been misappropriating them since his assumption of office in 2018. We are saying No, we don’t want him anymore, we are saying enough is enough,” he said.
When contacted, the general manager, however, described the allegations that the athletes were still in camp as false.
Fabuluje said that camp had been disbanded, following government’s directives.
He said the athletes had started receiving alerts in batches since Friday, as approved by the state government.
Fabuluje said the protesting athletes were those who belonged to the batch that had not received payment.
“As I am speaking with you now, I am in the bank and their allowances are being paid,” he said.
On the allegation of misappropriation of funds, the general manager said that it was not true, maintaining that he had been given clean bill of health by the state House of Assembly and the Department of State Services (DSS) on the allegation. (NAN)
– Mar. 23, 2020 @ 18:25 GMT |