The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has dismissed as misleading, statements at the weekend by former Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung that the federation omitted the budget for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations from its 2019 programmes sent to the Ministry.
"There is no truth to the claim that the NFF omitted the AFCON from its budget," NFF Executive Committee member and Chairman of the Media and Publicity Committee, Hon. Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande clarified yesterday.
"The truth is that major competitions are never part of the regular budgets since, in most cases, qualification campaigns are still on course while budgets are being prepared for the following year. Thus, they are always sourced from intervention funds.
"We qualified for the 2019 AFCON in November 2018, after the 1-1 draw with South Africa in Johannesburg. That was too late to include in the budget for 2019, which we had submitted around September/October 2018. So, we knew the grace would be for the AFCON fund to be sourced from special intervention, and not from the proposal that had been submitted earlier as regular programme.
"For instance, the 2018 FIFA World Cup budget was also sourced from intervention fund. We qualified for that competition in October 2017 and we could not have included it in the regular programme for the year 2018."
Kwande, who actually defended the NFF budget for the year 2019 at the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, said that the NFF at this time is only interested in ensuring that the national teams (male and female) excel at their respective tournaments in which they are representing Nigeria, and would ordinarily not respond to Mr. Dalung's statements, but noted that it is important to put records straight to avoid misleading the public.
"For the regular annual budgets, we put together our budget for every competition and send to the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, which then puts a covering note and recommends to the Presidency, from where the document heads to the Finance Ministry and then onwards to the Budget Office.
"Since this NFF administration came into office, as was the case for some time before it, the federation usually received what is called an 'envelope'. So, the only way to prosecute major competitions is to depend on the grace of intervention funds.
"Few weeks after we qualified for the AFCON 2019, we sent a budget to the Ministry. We sent this same budget about three times as we were always being told to re-submit.
"Mr. Dalung was Minister of Sports for three-and-half years and not once did the NFF bypass the Ministry to submit a budget to the Presidency or the Finance Ministry. Facts are sacred," Kwande reiterated.
The NFF chieftain said that for the records, the federation has never written any story to curry sympathy, as alleged by Dalung. "We have no time for those kind of spins. Another deliberate misleading statement by the former Minister was the allegation that the NFF leadership has been saying that it can do without government funding. We have never said so; we have only ever stated that the NFF has attained about 60 per cent self-funding from the analysis of our 2017 audited accounts that we published, and that we are determined to drive towards total self-funding which would be a delight to the government, as it will free resources for other critical sectors.
"It is however interesting that Mr. Dalung now considers the NFF as a self -accounting parastatal, when several times during his tenure he refused to accept such!"
Kwande said that nevertheless, the Super Eagles are focused on putting up a good performance at the AFCON 2019 finals starting in Egypt on Friday. "We are not sure what the intentions of Mr. Dalung are regarding the so-called 'feelers' he said he is having about possible unrest in the Super Eagles' camp.
"There is nothing of such; it is statements such as those being made by Dalung at such inauspicious times that, but for the absolute discipline and concentration of the Super Eagles, is capable of truncating harmony in the camp.
"The players are focused on the noble assignment of doing Nigeria proud and told representatives of the Nigerian ambassador to Egypt (the representative of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari in that country) as much when they visited the camp some days ago.
"The 'feelers' we are getting are all positive, and we are confident the team will do the country proud at the end of the day," conclude Kwande.