By Bukar Bolori
The Federal Government has inaugurated the Board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) after the successful conduct of the elections to fill executive position of the association saddled with the control of the nation’s exploit in the track and field events.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare who inaugurated the newly elected Board members at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium Abuja, on Tuesday, called on them to avoid the pitfall of the past, by following the constitution and ensuring that stakeholders are carried along in order to ensure the federation records more podium appearances in sporting activities.
Dare, who stated that the election was a new dawn for Track and Field in Nigeria as exemplified by the way the election was conducted, strictly in accordance with the 2017 Constitution of the Federation as recommended by both World Athletics and Confederation of African Athletics, shows that a new seed of hope has evolved for the good of sports development in the country.
He stated further that, the AFN Board is the legitimately constituted and recognized body duly elected by the Congress of the AFN and recognized by the Federal Government of Nigeria and by extension the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development. He therefore urged the Board to operate within the tenets of their Constitution as recognized by Government under which sports is been governed. Stressing that, no Federation is autonomous, as all the 38 Federations operate under the guidelines of Government.
The Minister, while assuring that Government would continue to partner with both continental and intercontinental bodies, charged with the development of athletics in other to encourage and improve the young and talented youths of the country, called on the Board not to compromise the welfare of athletes.
He expressed delight that under his watch as Minister of Youth and Sports Development, “the Sports Federation have been fulfilling our expectations of them and the AFN in the last 18 Months has risen up to the challenges occasioned by the crisis that engulfed it since September 2017”.
He explained that, Government recognizes the place of their Constitutions and their operationalization which must respect the laws of Nigeria.
“Our laws are clear and it is upon the laws of Nigeria that the Ministry governs the Sports Sector. Like I said earlier, this is a new dawn for athletics and we shall duly inform your parent body, World Athletics pursuant to articles 7.5 and 9.1. (e) of 2019 World Athletics Constitution that Chief Tonobok Okowa has been elected by the AFN Congress to lead as President is the recognized governing body for the Sport in Nigeria by the Nigerian Government” .
Speaking earlier, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Engr. Nebolisa Anako assured the Board of the Ministry’s support to ensure the full development of sporting activities and youth empowerment in line with the policy thrust of the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration.
He enjoined the AFN Board members to roll up their sleeves and put the country on the path of success.
The newly elected AFN President, Chief Tonobok Ojuru Okowa assured that the AFN Board will hit the ground running to ensure effective performance of Nigerian athletes, not just at the Olympic but also to make Nigeria take its rightful place in Africa and the world at large.
‘’We will achieve this by putting in place a good welfare package for the athletes that will enhance their performance and ensure Nigerian athletes come back with medals at Tokyo to do the nation proud’’, he said.
The newly inaugurated 12-board members of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria are expected to serve for the period of four years, effective from the day of inauguration. Their names are as follows:
1 Chief Tonobok Ojuru Okowa President
2 Gadzama Tafida Wadzani 1st Vice President
3 Mrs Rosa Collins Okah 2nd Vice President
4 Amb. Manta Haruna Mohammed Member
5 Hon.Yusuf Liman Dahiru Member
6 Mr. Victor Okorie Member
7 Mr. Solomon Alao Member
8 SC Onikeku Samuel Member
9 Technical/Coaches Rep Member
10 Prof. Emmanuel Ojeme Member
11 Mrs Maria Wophil Member
12 Mr. Henry Okorie