‘No Division In Athletics Federation’
President of Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Tonobok Okowa, has been elected as one of the vice presidents of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) at the congress in Lusaka, Zambia.
Okowa, who is the Chairman of Delta State Sports Commission, was earlier in the year elected as president of the CAA Zone 2 at an election held in Accra, Ghana.
At the CAA election in Lusaka on Thursday, Cameroun’s Kakalba was re-elected as president, while Gen Tuwei of Kenya also retained his as first vice president.
Speaking with The Guardian, yesterday, Okowa stated that he would use his new position as CAA vice president to turn around athletics in Nigeria, as well as the Zone 2 region.
Meanwhile, Okowa has dismissed as ‘total rubbish’ an online report that the AFN board has been enmeshed in crisis. The report said some unnamed board members accused the president of sidelining them in decision making.
He said: “In the first place, there is no crisis in the AFN board to warrant such a sensational headline. And I make bold to say that anybody saying that I am running a one-man show should come forward with proof.
“As we speak, over 50 Nigerians, including 42 athletes and eight coaches are in Ndola, Zambia, for the 2023 African U-18 and U-20 Athletics Championships. The Technical Director of the AFN, Samuel Onikeku, as well as the Head coach of the federation, Seigha Porbeni, are here with the team.
“I had to source for the funds to fly Team Nigeria here all alone because government has not released money. And we are just coming out of general elections. Such report is capable of discouraging people, but I won’t abandon the work and journey I started.”
He revealed that despite the difficulty in recurring money for the trip to Ndola, he offered to accommodate a particular board member on the trip, but she insisted on flying first class. “I made it clear to her that I was struggling to source for the money to buy tickets for the athletes and coaches and that I could not offer what is beyond my capacity. I told her to pay for the first class ticket and get her refund when government releases money later.
“She said no. These are the same people teaming up with others to cook up these rubbish publications against me. I am not bothered,” Okowa stated.
He confirmed that Nigerian athletes were in good shape and ready for the battle of Ndola, which begins today.