June 10, (THEWILL)- There were positive signs that the fractious leadership situation of the Board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), which required the intervention of the international regulator, was at an end. This positive outlook was hinged on the imminent elections that were being considered as the means to hopefully put the problems to rest.
The last two years have seen the Federation enmeshed in an internecine struggle at the top roiling with the emergence of two groups claiming leadership of the athletics body, one led by Engr. Ibrahim Shehu Gusau and the other by Olamide George, and leaving athletics in a state of crisis.
As reported by THEWILL, efforts to resolve the issues reached a head when officials of World Athletics (WA) and the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA), came to Nigeria and laid down a June 14 deadline for both factions to hold a congress that will usher in a new board.
To that end, four candidates, namely Omatseye Nesiama, Tony Okowa, Olamide George and Ahmed Kaita signified their intention to vie for the AFN president, in elections slated for Monday, June 14, which the AFN was readying itself to organise.
Only for the other factional leader, the immediate past president, Gusau, to indicate on Wednesday, that he is vying for a second term in office in a public statement that said that in the spirit of unity and oneness, the interests of all contestants should be protected before and during the election of June 14.
The statement read: “Having suffered persecution for the better part of my first tenure due to unnecessary meddlesomeness within the sports family, I know what it means to suffer injustice.
“Let me assure all participants and contestants in the AFN election that it will be free and fair. The screening and electoral committees have been given a free hand to conduct the electoral process without fear or favour.”
au continued: “AFN is one big family where all genuine stakeholders have a say. If we want to hit the ground running and avoid all unnecessary distractions, everybody must be on board.”
However, Gusau’s participation in the elections of Monday was strongly denied by Adeniyi Beyioku, the Secretary General of the AFN, who responded to the statement by insisting that Gusau was not part of their plans for Monday.
Beyioku said: “I don’t know where Gusau is holding his election. One thing I can tell you is that he is not part of the election we are conducting on Monday.”
All these point to another impending cul de sac on the path towards restoration of concrete leadership and direction for the AFN especially for the benefit of the country and for Team Nigeria’s progress with the Olympics already imminent.
It is hopeful, for the sake of peace, that these issues are ironed out and progress can be made from June 14.