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Bigger Financial Scandals for Nigerian Football as FIFA Withholds Funds

The scandals in the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), are catching on like wild fire. One cannot help but wonder at how once a revered nation, is at the mercy of mismanagement and financial queries.

Let us roll back not so many months ago when the Olympic team of Nigeria suffered an embarrassment at the 2016 Rio games. The team arrived late for its opening game against Japan, followed by an accommodation crisis, which was solved by one of Nigeria’s prolific players who dug into his own pockets to save the day.

Fast forward three months later, the women’s national team held a demonstration over unpaid wages after the Africa Cup of Nations winners for a record eighth time, went into protest.

It took the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari to get the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to release a mandate to Central Bank of Nigeria to release the funds, not only owed for Super Falcons’ participation in the 10th Women’s Africa Cup, but also for the men’s participation and performance in the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers.

The issues in the Federation have taken yet another twist after the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, revealed that FIFA has raised queries over the lack of proper documentation to account for $802,000 out of the FIFA development funds released to NFF.

An audit report by the world football governing body, raised concerns that funds were diverted leading FIFA to restrain all development funds to Nigeria.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”According to the report, FIFA has withheld all development funds to Nigeria for lack of proper documentation of $802,000 out of the funds released to NFF,”[/perfectpullquote]

Dalung said.

Dalung was surprised by the information detailed in FIFA’s audit report revealing a $1.1 million FIFA development grant to NFF and issued an audit inquiry into the matter.

“This is a very serious issue that must be given urgent attention to avoid another international embarrassment, more so that the present administration under the leadership of Mr. President Muhammadu Buhari has zero tolerance for any act of misappropriation, misapplication, embezzlement or fraud in any guise.

“In addition, a reputable audit firm should be appointed urgently to check the account books of the Federation to ensure that funds are judiciously expended. The audit report must be made public to promote transparency, build credibility and enhance your market value,” Dalung added.

Social media was not far off as Nigerians expressed their reactions in dismay. Nevertheless, NFF denies any diversion of funds and in what it called “misinformation” on the minister’s part stated, “The audited account of the Federation for the year, as audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers, an internationally reputable audit firm, was presented and adopted at the General Assembly.” NFF also insisted that there were no discrepancies found from the audits.

In other news, contrary to the fact, out of favor NFF president, Amaju Pinnick was endorsed to join the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) at the next scheduled polls, for the body’s congress to be held in March, in Addis Ababa.

According to a statement released by NFF spokesman, Ademola Olajire, “The congress passed a Vote of Confidence on the NFF executive committee.

“It also endorsed the candidature of NFF president, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick for election into the CAF Executive Committee at the CAF Congress in Addis Ababa in March 2017.

“Congress called on all Nigerians to give him total support as it is not an NFF venture, but a Nigerian project.”

Dalung also expressed support for the endorsement saying, “It is a policy of government to support and encourage Nigerians to vie and aspire for positions in international organizations. However, such persons must possess the requisite qualification and the wherewithal to succeed.

“So it was heartwarming when I received a letter from the president of NFF, Mr. Amaju Pinnick declaring his interest to vie for a position in CAF. The NFF is hereby directed to avail the ministry with the minutes of the meeting where Mr. Pinnick’s nomination for a CAF seat was discussed and approved so as to put the records straight.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”If our quest for a CAF seat is to materialize, then the NFF President will need the support of everybody.”[/perfectpullquote]

Prior to his statement acknowledging Pinnick’s endorsement, Dalung said his office was overwhelmed by reports suggesting a division in opinion within the board of NFF, over Pinnick’s endorsement.


Featured Photo: Nigeria’s Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung (L) and President, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Amaju Pinnick (OMOJUWA.COM)

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