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Athletics stakeholders flabbergasted, blast Okowa’s insistence on going ahead with AFN ‘Emergency Extraordinary Congress’

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Athletics stakeholders including athletes and coaches say they are flabbergasted by comments attributed to AFN President, Tonobok Okowa that Thursday’s ‘Emergency Extraordinary Congress’ will go ahead despite glaring constitutional infractions.

Okowa was quoted by an online news outlet, Mainland Metro News, that the congress will hold following a letter the federation’s first Vice President, Tafida Gadzama wrote asking the federation’s President to let his actions be guided by the AFN constitution.

Okowa reportedly said no rule has been violated in conveying an ‘Emergency Extraordinary Congress’ for May 25 in Abuja. He added that every procedure has been followed.

‘We are holding an Emergency Extraordinary Congress and World Athletics is aware of whatever we are doing. And because it is an Emergency Extraordinary Congress, those rules of giving 15 days notice does not apply.

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‘Also, due to the emergency nature of the Congress, the AFN decided to take care of the feeding and accommodation of the members.

‘There is nothing strange in it. We operate an open door policy, and it is good we make this clarification to all Nigerians,’ Okowa was quoted to have said.

Many athletics stakeholders especially athletes and coaches who do not want to be named for the fear of being persecuted lament the quality of leadership in the AFN.

‘I cannot believe the AFN President could set his own rules different from what the federation’s constitution is saying. Does the AFN constitution makes provision for an ‘Emergency Extraordinary Congress’?,’ said a coach who begged not to be named.

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In his swift reaction, AFN first Vice President, Gadzama said Okowa has just confirmed the fears majority of members of the board have been expressing.

‘It is clear we have a President who thinks things must be done at his whim and caprice. This is a sad day for Nigerian athletics. For a President to openly say the constitution of the AFN does not matter, it shows a dictatorial tendency and we are ready to resist it,’ said the 2000 Olympics gold medalist.

Gadzama says the AFN constitution does not have any provision for an ‘Emergency Extraordinary Congress’.

‘Article 10.1.7 is very clear on the conditions that must be met before an Extraordinary Congress can be convened. It reads thus: An Extraordinary Congress shall be convened by the President or 2/3 of the Board as the case may be for the amendments of the Constitution or the consideration of any urgent matter.

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‘Notice of 15 working days shall be given. The purpose or the agenda for the Extraordinary Congress shall be sent to the Secretariat of all member states within the stipulated 15 working days’ notice.

Another stakeholder says journalists who interviewed the AFN President should have asked him where he derived his power from as the AFN constitution does not recognize any ‘Emergency Extraordinary Congress’.

‘It is a shame our journalists are exhibiting clear lack of understanding of the rules of the AFN and can be manipulated just anyhow to expose their ignorance,’ said the stakeholder, an athlete.

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