Ministry, NFF disagree over exclusion of Nations Cup expenditure in 2019 budget

[FILES] Minister of Youth and Sports Development , Solomon Dalung .PHOTO: Twitter

The furore over the exclusion of the Super Eagles’ African Cup of Nations expenditure in the 2019 budget continues to rage with the Sports Ministry yesterday saying that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) should be held solely responsible for the omission. But the NFF has also brought out documents to show that the omission ‘was a deliberate act by the ministry.’

Last week, the NFF raised the alarm that it was finding it difficult to meet its obligations to the Super Eagles and othjer national teams because the Sports Ministry failed to include its envelop in the budget submitted to the Federal Government.

However, a statement by Nneka Anibeze, who is the Media Aide to the immediate past Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, yesterday said the NFF failed to capture its Africa Cup of Nations tournament budget in its 2019 programmes sent to the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.

The statement quotes Dalung as claiming that the allegation was false and intended to portray the ministry, particularly himself in bad light.

“They were asked to submit their plans for 2019 to the office of Budget and National Planning, directly. They did not include AFCON in what they submitted to the Budget office. When the budget process was already advanced, I think it was already at the National Assembly when they discovered that they did not make provisions for AFCON.

“They approached the Ministry of Youth and Sports and I directed that they should write, so that we can apply for intervention from the office of the President. This happened towards the terminal date of the tenure of this administration.

“I also took it up personally with the President as requested, for his special intervention to save the situation but of course, the process, as we all know is slow. It has to go to the office of the President to the Ministry of Finance for advice before it will now go to Budget office and back for approval.

“It is a cumbersome process and therefore it is yet to materialize. Based on the time they initiated the process, it is not the fault of anybody but the fault of the Nigeria Football Federation which completely failed to include AFCON when they were invited by the office of Budget and National Planning to submit their program and budget for the year.”

Reacting to Dalung’s claims, NFF’s Chairman and Publicity Committee, Suleiman Kwande said: “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 program.

“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 program for the year 2018.

“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.”

He added 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.”

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