12 December 2018

Nigeria: Uncertainty in Team FCT As Athletes Compete On Empty Stomach

Abuja — All is not well with host FCT as athletes competing for the Federal Capital Territory at the ongoing 19th National Sports Festival (NSF) are grumbling over lack of adequate feeding, accommodation and outright non-payment of their camp and training allowances.

LEADERSHIP Sports observed that while top competing states like Delta, Rivers and Kano have since begun to prove their worth on the medal table of the sporting fiesta which began last week Thursday,the host city are still struggling to make their impact known.

A close watch on various happenings within Abuja National Stadium and Old Parade Ground, venues for the NSF revealed that the reason behind the low performance of the FCT's contingent is not unconnected to the maltreatment athletes are being subjected to by the officials of the FCT. This is even as the FCT minister, Mallam Mohammad Musa Bello had approved a 9 digit fund for the team to the Social Development Secretariat(SDS) headed by the Secretary, Barrister Amanda Iyabode Pam.

However, Iyabode Pam, who spoke to LEADERSHIP Sports through the spokesperson of the SDS, Shaka Sunday, said all the entitlements of the athletes would be paid accordingly as the process of assessing the funds released by FCTA is slow due administrative bureaucracy.

"Hopefully, all athletes should receive their outstanding entitlements and allowances by Wednesday(today), as secretary of the SDS and director of sports are working jointly to assess the funds. The delay may be due to administrative bottlenecks of government," Sunday said.

LEADERSHIP Sports also noted how medals won by FCT's contingent were not awarded due non-payment of mandatory affiliation fees for participating athletes, meant to be registered for different sporting activities.

"When the festival was about to start, those in charge of athletes meant to compete for FCT pleaded for time to pay for affiliation and participation fees. And we told them (based on the rules and regulations guiding the competition) to sign an undertaken, indicating their willingness to pay while the games are on, but to our greatest surprise no payment has been made.

Several of the athletes and officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, have said they have not been paid their emoluments since their arrival to camp and are now considering withdrawing from the Sports Festival.

"We have not been given anything since we resumed camp. Some of our members have left for other states "

"Even to feed is a big issue, some of us didn't eat throughout the day to show how bad the situation is. We are calling on the FCT minister to intervene in this matter if not most of us will have no choice than to return home."

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