The sports minister, Solomon Dalung, has attributed Nigeria’s lackadaisical preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympics to what he described as the unaccounted use of N2.9bn released by the Federal Government last year.
The minister who made his views known via several tweets on Wednesday called for a probe into how the cash was received and disbursed by those he said were “a cabal” working against true sports development in the country.
Using his Twitter account Dalung wrote, “Rio preparation is poor becos those who collected #2.9 billion meant for it are yet to account so accusing me is either deceit or hypocrisy.
“For those opposed to probe of the #2.9 billion released in August 2015 to the NSC, please convince me with superior reasons not blackmail.”
Apparently reacting to several criticisms over the shoddy run of the country towards the biggest global sporting event, Dalung said his leadership of the country’s sports industry should not take the flak and advised the critics to turn their heat on those who misused the fund.
He wrote via his Twitter handle @solomondalung, “Those asking for my head should publish their credentials for public scrutiny for comparison whether they are competent to make such demands.
“I will not surrender to manipulations of mercenary critics but will bow to superior ideas that will move sports forward in Nigeria.
“If it’s now a crime to ask for account of #2.9billion, then is either that critics are either beneficiaries or paid agents of cover up.
“It takes the grace of God to dismantle strong hold of a cabal that held sports captive in the name of professionalism the just shall triumph.
“For those asking for my head for selfish reasons note that weapon fashion against me shall (sic) prosper let’s join hands and move sports forward.”
Dalung did not mention the name of any official in his tweets on Wednesday but has always maintained that those who were in charge just before the new ministers were sworn in October mismanaged the cash which government released to cover some of the qualifiers to the Olympics and the athletes training programmes. The 2016 Olympics will start in August 5 in Brazil but most of the Nigerian athletes have yet to commence training. Those already training are mainly the elite athletes who are either self-funded or are getting assistance from big sport kit companies.
Earlier this year the minister complained that the Games Village accommodation was not paid for until he arrived in Brazil barely 48 hours to the deadline even though it was meant to have been paid for in 2015.