When you think about Solomon Dalung, a number of things probably come to mind:
A Che Guevara enthusiast and cosplayer.
A culturally non-binary fella.
And then, of course, Our Honourable Minister of Sports.
One thing that might not be immediately apparent, is a dark side we’ve all been mostly shielded from. Our Sports Minister might be a low-key Yahoo-boy, seeing as for the past two years, his ministry has failed to refund $130 000 erroneously sent to the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), which would you believe? He authorised to have spent!
It all started when, out of their obligation as the governing body of the sport of athletics, the International Association of Athletics Foundation (IAAF) pledged the sum of $20 000 for the 2017 Warri Relays and Confederation of Athletics Athletics Grand Prix which held on July 18th, 2017.
Unfortunately for the federation, they made a most dangerous mistake with Nigerians, one they are still paying for two whole years after. They erroneously forwarded $150 000 to the AFN, $130 000 more than was pledged, on March 17th, 2017. An error which Jee Isram (a Senior Manager at the IAAF) claimed had been brought to the attention of the AFN as early as March 18th, 2017 – with appeals that the excess be promptly returned.
Double unfortunate for the body, corrupt Nigerian ears tend not to work properly once money is involved, so this has more or less been the body’s reaction since appeals have been made for the sum to be returned:
What happened to the money?
According to an anonymous former board member of the AFN, the athletics federation was operating under the assumption that the IAAF had simply increased their pledge to the Warri Relays.
Because it is completely plausible that the IAAF suddenly developed a beer- belly and transformed into a benevolent Nigerian uncle, dishing out funds in excess of what was promised.
Anyway, when the money came, the AFN Secretary- Amaechi Akawo (as claimed by the anonymous source), brought $40 000 to the body, with the remainder of $110 000 being approved by the Sports Minister – Solomon Dalung to be spent on ‘certain projects’
What these projects were, well, your guess is as good mine.
Please give us back our money- IAAF
The IAAF, after promptly informing the AFN of its error back in 2017, has engaged in several measures to reclaim its money.
In November 2017, the IAAF, following several written correspondences, held a meeting with the AFN, where it was requested that the excess amount be reversed via a bank transfer, but that didn’t work.
On June 28, 2018, the AFN informed the IAAF that 50% of the amount was ready to be refunded, but again, their appeals went to voice mail.
Again, in August 2018, officials of the IAAF, while visiting Asaba, met with the Minister of Sports – Solomon Dalung and his Permanent Secretary, where the return of the funds was discussed and still, nothing happened.
Well now, they’re over it! Fully about that violent taketh by force life, the IAAF is coming with sanctions and a threat to ban Nigeria from further competitions, unless what is owed is paid promptly.
“We don’t do that here” – Solomon Dalung.
Mr. Dalung, who has only a few weeks left before he steps down and is essentially the reason for the deadline, doesn’t want to hear any of it though.
Speaking at the 2019 Okpekpe Road Race held on May 25th 2019, he was one comment shy of refusing to release the funds as reparations for colonialism. Blaming everything from the IAAF’s disorderliness to a Nigerian blackmail agenda and even the near-denial that any mistakes were made at all, he made it abundantly clear this money wasn’t coming out of any pockets in the near future.
He also somehow rationalised spending ₦ 46,800,000 on a single day’s event, declaring that: ” the money was sent for the golden relays and it was done. Are they saying there were no golden relays? ”
Here’s Why This Is A Big Ass Scam.
And it’s a really simple one too.
Imagine your big uncle – who loves you and only wants the best for you – sends you ₦ 15 000 annually. For some reason, you get an alert for ₦ 1.5 million from this same uncle, do you:
a. Immediately alert him to the increase, while obviously steering clear of spending the excess? or
b. Ball TF out, clearing the money sent before his debit alert even hits?
I want to believe your answer is ‘a’, and if not, go stand in the naughty corner with Mr. Dalung over there.
The fact that Mr. Dalung has done anything but return the money (that he okayed to have spent), despite it being grossly in excess of what was promised just goes to re-inforce that our guy knew what he was doing, and went ahead to do it anyway.
With only a little bit left before he steps down, we wait to see if he will bear the blame for Nigeria being banned from foreign sporting events, or if he’ll take steps to wash clean the ‘419’ currently etching its way across his forehead.