The decision of the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, to sack the Technical Director of Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Sunday Adeleye, has stirred controversy.
In a letter addressed to the AFN President, Shehu Gusau, on Thursday, the sports minister ordered the removal of Adeleye as the TD of the AFN over alleged gross misconduct.
The letter, which was signed by the sports ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Olusade Adesola, also directed Gusau “to convey to Adeleye in writing this directive and evidence of compliance delivered to the sports minister.”
Apart from Adeleye, the AFN’s Secretary-General, Elijah Adamu, was also recalled by the sports minister.
It was gathered that Adeleye was indicted in a report submitted by a review panel after investigating Nigeria’s poor outing at the 2019 World Athletics Championships held in Doha.
However, sacking Adeleye as TD has resulted to debate among athletes, sports administrators and former athletes.
While some argued that the sports minister breached provisions of the AFN constitution, others said he didn’t.
According to a copy of the AFN constitution obtained by newsmen, only the AFN’s president, council or congress are empowered to appoint and discipline erring officials, athletes or state associations.
Article 10 of the AFN constitution read, “The AFN board may be dissolved by the pronouncement of the Ministry of Youth and Sports at the expiration of four years of office in line with the Olympic circle.”
Though the constitution was silent on whether the sports minister can order the sack of an elected AFN board member, it stated that “Any case which has not been provided for in the constitution shall be settled in first instance by the AFN council and at last resort by the congress.”
An IAAF certified coach, Soetan Olalekan, faulted the sports minister’s directive.
He said, “The minister doesn’t have such power to touch a board member of an IAAF member federation – AFN.
“So, it was a directive to a president he didn’t install, the president’s powers belong to his board and only his board can direct or advise him on such sensitive issue.”
An athlete Collins Duru, warned against government’s intervention in the affairs of the federation.
He said, “If I approach this from the legal and technical angles surrounding the scenario – Adeleye is an elected member on the board of AFN and not a ministry staff, so isn’t the sports minister acting outside his jurisdiction?
“If this is true, it is a direct government intervention into the affairs of sports and that could attract IAAF sanctions too.”
“If we allow the sports ministry, one day they will help to select board members and sack them as well,” Dele Abubakar added.
When contacted on the telephone, Adesola explained that the sports ministry breached no provision in the AFN constitution.
He explained that the sports minister has not ordered the removal of Adeleye as a board member but as the TD of the AFN.
“The letter was directed to the president of the federation because we understand the provisions of their constitution. We acted in accordance with the law,” he added.