Tuesday, July 12, 2016 11:28 pm
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung, on Tuesday distanced himself and the federal government from the Olympic Games pre-tournament tour of the USA by the U-23 National team.
The minister, who made the statement in Abuja at a stakeholders meeting in preparation for the Olympics, explained that his ministry does not know anything about the trip embarked upon by the Dream Team.
Dalung’s action followed reports that players of the U-23 National team were ejected from their hotels in USA following shortage of funds.
The minister said it was necessary that the federal government dissociated itself from the trip going by the human trafficking activities of some desperate Nigerians.
“I am just hearing the news of their suffering and threat to throw them out of their hotel in US, for the first time.
“I am hearing the story of our U-23 team camping in the USA for the first time now; we don’t know who took them there and what their mission there is.
“It’s like when somebody goes to market and have problem, then, he will hold the ministry responsible.
“How does it become our problem if the team travelled without our knowledge or did they say they informed the ministry?
“So, before you ask us to account for something, you should be sure that we are aware of the situation in the first place,’’ Dalung said.
He said that the ministry could not take responsibility for anything that was not done under the protection of the Nigerian laws, noting that federation had been warned.
The minister said a similar incident occurred in Benin Republic recently when he was told that Team Nigeria athletes were ejected from their hotel rooms.
“I was in London when I was told that they were ejecting and throwing out Team Nigeria athletes in Benin Republic.
“It was painted as if we sent them there, but I investigated and discovered that there was no correct documentation of their travelling.
“There are very serious instances of people approaching us requesting for visas to travel when they are not going for anything that has to do with the federation; they want to traffic Nigerians.
“If somebody has a birthday of his friend and he moved his team to play for him, I cannot be compelled to account for them.
“If they have thrown them out of the hotel, they should know who took them there,’’ he said.
Dalung dared anybody with proof of approval letter from his office concerning the team’s trip, noting that what was happening to the team in the US appeared to him like a story. (NAN