Tafida Gadzama, the first Vice President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN, says the coming on board of Premium Trust Bank as a sponsor of the federation will usher in a new era for athletes and officials.
Gadzama, a former African U20 400m champion and Olympics 4x400m gold medal winner was not happy with the boycott by some of Nigeria’s top home based athletes of the AFN Golden League final in Uyo at the weekend but assured he and his colleagues on the board of the AFN are concerned about how athletes have been treated in the last two decades and believes there is now light at the end of the tunnel.
‘I am happy Premium Trust Bank is finally going to become a sponsor of the federation 10 months after we were told they have signed a deal with us,’ began the 1999 African Games 4x400m champion.
Gadzama said he and some notable former-internationals on the board have been talking to make sure ‘our athletes are the priority henceforth and must be adequately rewarded for trying to project the image of the federation.’
‘Gone are the days when athletes are paid #40,000 naira as top prize money. If our road runners can be earning #1,00000 and #500,000, why can’t those running on the track earn as much as #200,000 for coming first in each leg of the Golden League and #500,000 in the final?.
‘We have resolved they will be accommodated in standard hotels, provided with transport subsidy payable on arrival at competition venue. Their coaches will also not be left out.
‘The good thing is that most of these things have been done in the past, especially during our time when we were running in the AFN Classics which the Golden League has become a poor version of.’
Gadzama says this will be the beginning of having a responsive and responsible federation.
He assured the athletes he will champion this new cause.
‘I am sure the sponsor will equally be happy that athletes are the main beneficiaries of the money they are putting into the deal. They have tied the money to competitions and we will ensure it is judiciously spent.’
The AFN first Vice President says he is also championing an inclusive and transparent federation where decisions are taken by the board as enshrined in the constitution.
‘It is unbelievable that board members are not the ones taking decisions they are saddled with by the constitution and are only informed by email that a decision has been taken.
‘Some board members are not ready to sell their constitutionally enshrined rights while a few others are ready to sell their souls for whatever reasons.’