2019 AFCON: Lack of Funds May Rock Nigeria’s Participation

during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Nigeria vs Zambia on October 7th 2017 at Godswill Akpabio Stadium
©Kabiru Abubakar/fotodezamora

Barely one week to the kick off of the 32nd Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) are going grey over how to raise funds for Super Eagles successful participation at this edition of Africa’s football showpiece.

AFCON 2019 is scheduled to begin next Friday with Super Eagles opening their campaign against Burundi the next day in Alexandria. Eagles arrived Ismailia last Sunday for final preparation before kick off.

THISDAY however learnt during the week that officials of the federation are running from pillars to poles on how to raise the funds needed for Eagles to have a smooth sail without any hitches.

An inside source hinted that because immediate past Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung refused to include NFF’s budget for the year in the ministry’s envelope for appropriation, there is no provision for the federation to prosecute the AFCON 2019 project.

“As I speak with you right now, there is no money for Super Eagles to participate at the AFCON 2019 in Egypt. I am aware that the top leadership of NFF has been running around but none of those approached for assistance has offered to bail them out. The situation is that grim,” revealed the informed football source in Abuja on Tuesday evening.

It was further learnt that the problem is not limited to Eagles participation alone. “They had the same trouble prosecuting the Under-20 World Cup in Poland recently. I don’t know wether to be happy or not that the Flying Eagles crashed out early. If they had progressed further, there would have been real trouble in the camp as the players and coaches were owed allowances,” the source further hinted.

This perhaps may have been responsible for why Flying Eagles players resorted to protest after they crashed out of the competition in Poland. Some of the players even missed their flights to their respective bases.

Unlike the FIFA World Cup where the world governing body provides funds for preparations and participation of all qualified teams, CAF only takes care of accommodation and feeding of teams in AFCON. Participating federations handle their logistics and sundry matters.

Except the Presidency in Abuja intervenes in the matter, Nigeria is likely to return to the era of players’ squabble over allowances at the AFCON 2019, a thing not yet witnessed in the almost four and half years of the Amaju Pinnick administration at the Glass House.

Apart from the AFCON 2019 and the ongoing Women’s World Cup in France, Nigerian teams have also qualified for the African U-23 Nations Cup and the FIFA U-17 World Cup, which are also scheduled for this year.

Reacting to the allegation that the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development yanked off NFF’s package from its 2019 budget penultimate Tuesday, its Permanent Secretary, Olusade Adesola said the ministry should not be held responsible if the NFF’s expenditure is not in the federal budget because the ‘federation is an independent parastatal.’

According to Adesola, “the NFF is responsible for its own budget, which in most cases is included in the Sports Ministry’s envelope. “You know the resources are not limited and so things are prioritized based on available resources. If the NFF did not submit its budget, it is not the ministry’s fault.”

The Permanent Secretary’s position was however faulted by a top official of the NFF who disclosed to THISDAY that the Glass House was made to submit its budget three times to the office of the immediate past minister but are surprised it was not included in the ministry’s budget for the year.

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