Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, says the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has no reason to ban Nigeria for the refund of fund the world athletics governing body mistakingly paid the country.
IAAF said Nigeria was overpaid by $130,000 in 2017, a sum which the body asked Nigeria to pay back within days or be sanctioned.
However, speaking during the 7th Okpekpe 10km International Road Race held in Edo State on Saturday, Dalung wondered why the athletics body only raised the alarm two months after the said error.
“I think Nigeria has been unfairly treated because the issue has been painted and promoted as if there was any wrongdoing on the side of Nigeria, certainly not. Grants were released to Nigeria on the 17th of May, 2017 and on the 19th of May, IAAF confirmed the transaction. Just for IAAF after two months to turn round and cry foul that there is a mistake. I mean transaction that was done and confirmed suddenly turned mistake. I smell rat in the whole thing and I believed that the whole thing is being orchestrated just to blackmail Nigeria.
“When did they realized they made mistake when the transaction was confirmed. I made mistake in transferring money, I realized in ten minutes and I call my bank to retrieve the money. Why did it take IAAF two months to realize the mistake, an international organization, highly reputable.
I think it is not about money erroneously accredited to Nigeria , but there is calculated attempt just to demeaning, destroy the Nigerian athletics. Otherwise I don’t see why they call it mistake. We didn’t apply for grants.”
Asked what would the country do to avoid the ban, Dalung replied, “Ban us for what, ban Nigeria for what? What has Nigeria done? What is the crime?
Did we steal any money from them? Did we ask them to transfer money to us? They transfer money to us, they confirmed the transfer and then after two months, they woke up from slumber. Is IAAF telling us they are much disorganized as that. Where Nigeria is wrong, Nigeria will own up but you can not just wake up and realized they have something to hold unto.
“The money was sent for the Golden Relays and the Golden Relay has taken place. Are they saying that there was no Golden Relay. I think those promoting this are trying to cry blue murder. I think they are just enemies of this country and we should ask questions,” Dalung said.