The whereabouts of the N8 billion approved by the Federal Government for the construction of sports development centres in all the 774 local government areas in the country is generating a furore between stakeholders in Nigerian sports and the immediate past and current leadership of the National Sports Commission (NSC).
The sports commission under the leadership of the immediate past Minister of Sports, Sani Ndanusa, an engineer, it was gathered, had in a bid to take sports back to the grassroots, proposed the building of a mini sports centre in all the local governments of the Federation.
But Ndanusa told The Moment in an interview from his Minna, Niger State base that he neither requested nor got such money while he served as sports minister and chairman of the sports commission.
The National Assembly had purportedly appropriated N8 billion for the project in the 2010 budget, but renowned critic and former Chairman of the Gombe State Football Association, Alhaji Shaibu Gara Gombe, who has kept a close tab on developments concerning the project, told The Moment in an exclusive interview in Abuja that the nation might have been hoodwinked by initiators of the project.
Said Gombe: "In the 2010 budget, about N8 billion was provided to build sports development centres in all the 774 local governments of Nigeria, not one is visible, we have already got into the 2011 budget.
"Then the National Assembly called them (officials of the NSC); asked them where is the money, why didn't you do it? I was the first person that blew it up, till today nobody is talking about it, N8 billion you can imagine.
"And Sani Ndanusa, who is now the President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), was busy making noise that time, that as part of his achievement he has built sports centres, where are they?"
Gombe described as deplorable the sport leadership's seeming penchant for running to the government cap in hand requesting for colossal sums which are seldom accounted for.
The House of Representatives Committee on Sports, it would be recalled, had earlier in the year while performing its oversight function over the NSC discovered that about N650 million budgeted by the sports commission for the prosecution of the 2011 National Sports Festival, which has yet to be held, had already been spent by the goons at the NSC. The lawmakers had then threatened to invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the sports authorities, but nothing more has been heard then.
"For the 2009 Under-17 World Cup, they wanted the government to give them N35 billion. They ended up having N12 billion, till today there are no accounts.
"We did come back from Angola (2010 Nations Cup) after Nigeria lost in the semi-final; he (Ndanusa) had a press conference and said the accounts would be ready in two weeks. We had Nations Cup in Angola January last year, and another January has passed. 13 months after, there are no accounts.
"They deviously wrote a letter to Yar A'dua saying that they have raised $10 million (N1.5 billion) in terms of sponsorship, that Yar A'dua should give them additional N2 billion, that was when Yar A'dua gave them N2 billion. "Where is that money? They say the money is with FIFA. Even South Africa that hosted the World Cup, FIFA has already remitted their share of the money. Till today they've not shown us our $3 million (N465 million), where is it?"
Ndanusa said the NSC did not get N8 billion for the construction of sports development centres across the nation, but admitted the sports commission under his supervision embarked on certain projects, though he was extremely tight-lipped on the type of project.
"I didn't get such money throughout my stay in office. I don't know about the project you are talking about, but we carried out some projects during my tenure," said Ndanusa who was desperate to end the discussion because according to him, "I am in a meeting right now; you know politics is in the air and I'm meeting with some people."
Attempts by our correspondent to get the NSC Director-General, Dr. Patrick Ekeji to react to the allegation proved abortive as he neither pick his call nor respond to text messages sent to his mobile telephone.