By Emma Jemegah
Contrary to reports that the N1b approved by President Muhammadu Buhari for the D’Tigers is missing nor lodged in any escrow account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as alleged by former Minister Solomon Dalung, Daily Sunsports can report authoritatively that the money had been used for what it was intended for.
Sources within the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) say former Sports Minister, Barrister Solomon Dalung got his facts wrong before going on air to allege the money is in an escrow account at the CBN.
“It is most unfortunate that a former Minister of Sports can come on air to allege misappropriation when documents he is bandying around suggest otherwise. The N1, 091, 996, 190. 00 request he made to Mr President was for the male basketball team as outlined in the August 20, 2018 letter he wrote to President Buhari.
“In the letter he also referenced the NBBF letter reference number NBBF/FMY&S.4/2018/Vol. XIII/32 dated August 6, 2018 on the subject matter. How he could come on air to now allege the money was for D’Tigress, the national female basketball team beats me,” said our source in the sports ministry and corroborated by a top member of the immediate past NBBF board who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.
“Out of the amount requested, approval was given for N1b and the money was released August 19, 2019, four months after Dalung left as sports minister and a few days before Sunday Dare was sworn in as sports minister.
“The money was credited to the Sports Ministry’s service wide vote for international sporting activities. This created a problem for the sports ministry as the NBBF was not captured in our 2019 budget.” According to the source, Sunday Dare who assumed office two days after the money was released insisted the NBBF must get the lion share of the money and at a meeting held with the Permanent Secretary of the Sports Ministry and the NBBF, the sum of N850m was approved for the NBBF while N150m was used to prosecute other international sporting activities.
He added that the sports ministry had to write the Finance Ministry for the restoration of the N1b released for international sporting activities which is still pending.
Our correspondent saw the payment voucher made available to the media and a sum of N850m was truly transferred to the account of the NBBF at the CBN that same month of August 2019. Evidence exists to the fact that within days of the money getting to the ministry it was disbursed to the NBBF.
The NBBF, according to our source confirmed the receipts of the money and it was also contained in the audited account of the federation presented at its congress earlier this month.
The audited account also acknowledged the receipt of another N744m this year (2021) from a 2019 request of N1, 675, 402, 500 made to the Sports Ministry and signed by Engr Kida for the D’Tigress only.
The request was made in a letter dated August 19, 2019 and the audited account showed both the income and expenditure of monies paid into the NBBF account. It was further gathered that the $2.2m sponsorship fees paid by Kwese for the basketball league and Peak were not captured in the audited account because the money was not warehoused in the NBBF account.
“The Sports Minister acted on the NBBF request and wrote the President for the intervention fund of N1, 675, 402.20 for D’Tigress in 2019 titled : Request for funds for Nigerian National Women Basketball Team for preparation and participation in 2017 & 2019 Afrobasket Championships, 2018 FIBA Women World Cup and the three FIBA 2020 Olympics Qualifying Windows. The Finance Ministry, according to our investigation, has directed that outstandings to the teams be separated and put together.
Part of the money (N744m) was released in the middle of this year, same time part of the NFF money for the bonuses of the players requested also in 2019 was released. “So, it is wrong for the Dalung and the D’Tigress to insinuate the money has been misappropriated.”
“We all know government does not have the money to attend to every request immediately but what is quaranteed is that the money will eventually be paid. I think Dalung and D’Tigress owe the Sports Minister, the Sports Ministry and NBBF an apology for alleging misappropriation. You have seen the documents including the payment vouchers and you are better informed. This is what is expected of the media to investigate allegations made to avoid defaming people. The documents are there and they reveal there is a sinister motive by these peddlers of falsehood,” said our source.