Sunday, September 26

Sports Ministry raises the alarm over delay in approving budget for African Games

With about three months to the commencement of the 2019 African Games in Morocco, the Sports Ministry is still in the dark following alleged delay by the Presidency in approving its budget for the Games.

The Sports Ministry was said to have submitted its budget proposal for the African Games to the Presidency last year with the hope of securing funds early to give Team Nigeria adequate preparations. The Games will run from August 19 to 31 in Morocco with 53 countries expected to participate.

An official of the Sports Ministry told The Guardian yesterday that the delay in securing the budget approval for the Games might damage Team Nigeria’s quest of making appreciable impact in Morocco.

“We may be heading for another fire brigade approach to preparations and participation the games,” the official said. “We are already in May, and the budget proposal for the African Games, which we submitted to the Presidency long ago, is yet to be approved. We are not even talking of securing money for the Games. We submitted the budget early because we wanted to avoid that situation in 2018, when funds were released to the sports ministry just two weeks to the National Sports Festival in Abuja.

“We need the money so that our athletes can start camping early. We need to secure their flight tickets, pay for accommodation in Morocco, and procure kits for the athletes, coaches and other officials. The athletes and officials also need insurance cover for the Games, and we have to make provision for their medicals. There is the need to call athletes to camp so that we know the number to be sent to the host country to enable them start early processing of visa. The sports minister was at the Villa last week to plead for approval of the budget, as well as early release of funds for the Games. But as we speak, there is no sign that we might get it soon. It is a bad signal ahead of the Games,” the official stated.

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