The Senate Committee on Sports yesterday threatened to arrest the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalong, over his failure to honour its invitation to brief the committee on Nigeria’s level of preparedness for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Olympics holds in August.
The senators also accused the minister of running a parallel Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, Obinna Ogba, who was visibly angry over the sports minister’s absence, said the committee was disappointed with Dalong’s nonchalant attitude towards its invitations.
“Nigerians are waiting to know how far the country is prepared for the forthcoming Olympics and again the World Cup qualifiers is around the corner. Nigerians need to know how far the ministry has gone in its preparation and yet the minister finds it difficult to brief the nation on what the ministry and Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is doing in preparation for the world tournaments,” he noted.
Ogba said the committee would give the minister another chance to appear before it on Thursday next week, adding that if he failed to honour that invitation the committee would invoke its constitutional powers.
“The sports minister has not been respecting the Senate. Again my personal assessment of the Minister is based on the myriad of challenges facing him, one of which is the 2016 Rio Olympics. One wonders what he has been able to do about Nigeria’s preparation for the competition,” he said.
He wondered why the Minister always took delight in running a parallel administration with the NFF president in handling the affairs of football in Nigeria.
Ogba said: “The President of Nigerian Football Federation will make a statement and the Minister would make contrary statement to that of the President of the Nigerian Football Federation.
“I think there is need to call a spade a spade because we can’t continue this way. We are giving the Minister a new date of Thursday next week to brief the Senate on the level of preparation for the Olympics.
“I have directed the Committee’s Clerk to send a well-worded letter of invitation to the Sports Minister to meet with the Committee.”
On the NFF crisis, Ogba said, “The Minister lacks the political will to get rid of that crisis. Dalong is a Minister and he is not to run the affairs of the NFF.
“As a Minister, his function is to supervise and not to run the day to day affairs of the NFF. For instance, the NFF president said he wants to employ foreign coach, and the minister came out to say he has not been given approval. It is not the duty of the minister to give approval or not to give approval.
“I was the first Vice President of the NFF and I know that whoever runs the Nigeria Federation of football is elected and the person has the mandate of the people.”Contributing a member of the Senate Committee on Sports, Mao Ohuabunwa, condemned the attitude of the minister, describing it as an insult.
“The absence of the sports minister at the Senate Committee on Sports invitation is an affront on the committee. The minister must be cautioned that he should not take the invitation of a Senate committee for granted next time because the Nigerian people are represented by the lawmakers,” he said.