Director of sports development in the five Eastern States of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo have written to sports development minister, John Enoh over alleged victimization of the South-East representative on the board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Victor Okorie by the Federation president, Chief Tonobok Okowa.
The directors, under the auspices of ‘South Eastern States’ Director of Sports Forum, in the protest letter, signed by all the give director of sports, detailed the achievements of Mr Okorie since he was elected as a member of the AFN board and the threat and victimization by the leadership of the Federation.
The Forum alleged that Okowa warned Okorie of dire consequences if he continues to demand for probity and accountability in the Federation following a five-man audit committee report that recommended AFN President to return N40m he was paid for events not captured in a sponsorship agreement the Federation signed with a bank and also threatened to scrap the position of performance director in the Federation.
According to the Forum, following Okorie’s insistence on fighting alongside other members of the AFN board including the two Vice Presidents who are demanding for a more transparent and responsible federation, Okowa indeed scrapped the performance director position and rewarded his state, Delta State with the headship of three sub-committees – competition Management, media, and education and youth development Committee in addition to the state producing the President, the second vice president and the secretary general.
The Forum while appealing to the Sports Development Minister to prevail on Okowa not to victimize a whole Southeast zone because of its representative’s patriotic call for transparency and accountability, revealed how Mr Okorie saved Nigeria from spending over $40,000 (about N26m) on flight tickets for athletes to attend National Trials in Benin city.
The Trials were used to select athletes that represented Nigeria at the Oregon 2022 World Athletics Championship and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
The directors also added that Okorie as performance director and liaison officer of AFN, has been able to build a good rapport with most Nigerian athletes and their coaches in the United States and Canada, saying the rapport with the coaches, athletics directors and university presidents make them to book tickets for our athletes when they are needed to compete for Nigeria.
They listed athletes whose tickets were paid by their universities to include Ashe Favour, Rosemary Chukwuma, Grace Nwokocha, Godson Brume, Amarachi Obi, Knowledge Omovoh, Ruth Usoro, Udodi Onwuzurike, Emmanuel Imeh, Ezekiel Nathaniel, Prosper Chinecherem, Ima Obong and Ezinne Abba.
Okorie, the Forum wrote, has been responsible for providing Team Nigeria athletes with competition wears to the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA in 2022, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom in 2022 and the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary last year due to his
link with kits and equipment company NIKE.