Angry NAATO officials want Ebewele
They are disgruntled defeated men,
Even as elections into the boards of the various sports federations are yet to hold, petitions have started flying around. The polls will hold on June 13 in Abuja, but one of the federations, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) seems to be witnessing a major crisis, as the leadership of Track and Field Coaches Association of Nigeria (TFCAN) and Nigeria Association of Athletics Technical Officials (NAATO) have condemned the election that brought in former Technical Director, Brown Ebewele as the representative of the two bodies.
Ebewele, whose tenure with former AFN Chairman, Tony Urhobo was cut short in 1997, defeated Henry Amike last week to stage a return to the board after 19 years. But the duo of Amike and Okon said in a protest letter made available to The Guardian yesterday that the process that brought Ebewele was fraudulent. They are urging the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung to investigate the conduct of the election, alleging that ‘mercenaries were freely used as eligible voters.’
“First and foremost, the accreditation that preceded the election was done without proper identification of persons, who presented themselves as delegates, to ascertain whether they truly belong to the Association they claimed to represent. The resultant consequence of that lapse was the allowance of paid surrogates and mercenaries recruited by Mr. Ebewele and his cohorts into the election hall to tilt the votes in his favour.
“Secondly, the election was conducted in an atmosphere of complete lack of fairness. States of the Federation where Nigerian Association of Athletics Technical Officials (NAATO) does not exist were allowed to participate and vote. The states are Adamawa, Kebbi, Jigawa, Gombe and Ogun. For the records, NAATO exists in only 20 states and Abuja.
“Thirdly, some state directors of sports were used to aid and abet the irregularities that were perpetrated during the election. For instance, some states where NAATO exists, (but which chairmen were indisposed and nominated their proxies) as requested by the guidelines, were not allowed to participate in the election, rather the Electoral Committee decided to honour nominations from the Directors of Sports. The above irregularities affected the results of the election,” Amike and Okon stated.
But in his reaction yesterday, Ebewele, popularly known as ‘Jujuman,’ described the allegation by Amike and Okon as the cry of a defeated man.
Speaking with The Guardian from his base in Benin City, he said: “I was not in-charge of accreditation for the election in the first place. They actually wanted to manipulate the process, but the voters said no. They should remain silent in the next eight years.”