Dalung reveals N2bn FG's money to Sport Ministry for basketball players, admits ban is a vendetta

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By Reliance Udoenyin

 

Former Minister of Youth and Sports Development Mr Solomon Selcap Dalung has raised alarm over N2bn received by the Ministry of Sport from the Federal Government for the men's and women's national basketball teams, questioning why the players were not paid until a protest.

 

AfroBasket champions, the D’Tigress, had eight months ago precisely on October 13, 2021 protested over their unpaid wages and allowances in a viral video shared on social media threatening to boycott international games including world cup qualifiers due to poor welfare. It wasn't until that protest that the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development issued a directive via a statement by Permanent Secretary of the ministry Ismaila Abubakar, requesting the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to commence immediate processing for payment of monies owed the team. 

 

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Today FM's Reliable Reliance Udoenyin on Today Sportslive, Dalung disclosed how the viral video was the catalyst to the payment, revealing he had secured approval for N1bn from the Federal Government for the D'Tigers and D'Tigress before leaving office. 

 

"If the D'Tigress players didn't do what they did (viral video protest), nobody would have known what happened," he began.

"It was the girls'video that compelled the Minister (Sunday Dare) to implicate my name which made me to come out and explain to Nigerians what happened. When those girls went for world cup qualifiers, I put up a proposal of about N1bn covering all qualifications and participation in the world cup. The money was approved by the president because I convinced the president and he saw reason that the girls were doing very well. They made the country proud and so the president approved." 

 

Dalung added the N1bn approved was paid to his successor Dare in August 2019 since the money wasn't released until after he (Dalung) left office. 

 

"We were pursuing the money until I left office. I wrote the Ministry of Finance three times and I got assurance from the Minister of Finance that the money was going to be paid but it was not paid until I left office. Now, the money was paid August 2019 and the girls were not paid their money until they made the video. When their money was paid in August, there was a tweet from the girls that out of their money 250m was shared and the Ministry immediately went on and ask (Musa) Kida to issue a denial. Of course, Kida denied but the truth still remains that something unusual happened with their money. If something unusual didn't happen, why were they not paid?" He questioned. 

 

It will be recalled that the Minister of Sport, Dare recently announced Federal Government's ban placed on men's and women's national basketball teams from international competitions for a period of two years so as to settle leadership crisis rocking the basketball federation as well as develop the sport locally. 

 

While disclosing the Sport Ministry headed by Dare later applied for and received another N1bn totaling N2bn for the D'Tigress and D'Tigers, Dalung agreed with those speculating that the ban from international basketball tournaments placed on the teams is a vendetta between Dare and the basketball players, notably the D'Tigress.

 

He said "The girls are being punished today for being patriotic. These are young girls that Nigeria did not invest a dime on them. Their parents live out of this country. But out of sheer love and patriotism, they sacrificed to try to rebuild the image of this country and this is how their future has been ruined. I will agree with those speculating the Minister (Dare) is on a vendetta for the girls exposing the crises of honesty rocking the issue of their money which was applied and approval gotten by me." 

  

It is at this point that the former Minister made clear the figures applied for and received by the Sport Ministry claiming a total of N2bn was released by the Federal Government for the basketball players. Dalung also claimed the quest by players of the Nigeria women basketball team to be paid what is due them will affect the hierarchy in Nigeria's sport sector. 

 

"The N1bn was applied and I got the approval." He continued. "The minister later applied for another N1bn and got it again in 2021. So, N2bn was approved by the Federal Government for the D'Tigress and the D'Tigers and they were not paid. So, you'll expect these intelligent brilliant talented young girls and young men who Nigeria never invested in them to keep quiet? They cannot keep quiet. They're not like other Nigerians who can be intimidated. They're going to fight this battle to the extent that it's going to bring down a lot of big men." He concluded. 

 

A statement from the Ministry of Sport released November 5, 2021 had confirmed that each of the 12 D'Tigress players to the last Olympics games in Tokyo had received $9,500 (N3.9m) each from the $100,000 Adopt-A-Team initiative donated by banks to the players. 

 

“Checks with the CBN also revealed that the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF)’s domiciliary account had been debited to reflect payments to the D’Tigress players, while the balance of the $130,000 dollars (N 53.4 million) remains for the men basketball players.

 “The cheques also reveal that the processes for these payments commenced on October 14, about the same time the Ministry had assured the team that the fulfilment of the monetary obligations to them was in the works,” the statement said.  

 

Nonetheless, there's no report obtained at this time confirming the girls have been paid other entitlements mentioned in the protest namely, the Tokyo 2020 grant and debt owed them by the NBBF. 

 

Moreso, it is unclear and no obtained report has confirmed the players have received monies from the N2bn claimed by Dalung to have been released to the Ministry of Sport since it was the $100,000 donated by banks that was paid to D'Tigress. 

 

 

 

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