Professor Ogunjimi Lucas, President of National Association of Track and Field Officials, NAATO, has written an open letter to Tonobok Okowa, President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN, over allowances owed its members who officiated at the Nigerian Track and Feild Championships held in Benin City, Edo state over two months ago.
In the letter, Professor Ogunjimi reminded Okowa of the commitments he made to ensure the officials were paid.
He wrote thus: ‘Kindly allow me to bring to your notice the most unfortunate treatment that members of our Association (NAATO) received from the Federation (AFN) over our participation (officiating) at the World Championships Trials in Benin City.
‘Many of our members were compelled to borrow money in order settle their hotel bills and or pay their transport back home because of lack of payment of officiating allowance.
‘But the firm commitments you gave to me when I presented the case to you in Lome (Togo) at the CAA Reg. 2 Championships, and later in Lagos (Lagos Series) were sufficient to give us the hope that the bills (payments) would be settled as expected and appropriately.
‘Sir, the World Championship has come and gone for several weeks/months now, and several efforts made by our National Secretary to interact /discuss the matter for this payment with both the Federation Secretary General and the TD (Technical Director) have yielded no positive results.
‘The pains of not been informed (or treated as valued individuals) while on ground at the stadium in Benin City (or even after they had all left for their different homes) about why the allowances were not paid, and coupled with the insults received from hoteliers before they could borrow money to settle their bills, truly justify the pains and resentments now being expressed by members.
‘My President sir, the fact that these members are from different backgrounds and independent/different professional callings, coupled with the bitting/hostile economic climate prevalent, I sincerely believe that your immediate intervention and directives to the Federation to get these allowances paid without further delay are urgently and highly required now.’
Many local athletics watchers have viewed this as a new low for the AFN whose preident has been described as a man of means and well connected.
Many others are wondering how the AFN President could have allowed millions of Nigeria to be wasted in the guise of seeking qualification ticket for the men’s 4x100m team at the expense of dedicated officials who ensured the success of the Championship in Benin City.