13 July 2016
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung, has distanced himself and the ministry from the Olympic Games pre-tournament tour of the U.S. embarked upon by the U-23 national team, the Dream Team VI.
The minister, who said this in Abuja at a stakeholders meeting on Tuesday in preparation for the Olympics, explained that the ministry was not aware of the trip and should not be dragged into the misfortunes of the team in the U.S.
Dalung’s statement followed reports that players of the U-23 National team were ejected from their hotel rooms in U.S. 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 U.S. for the first time.
“I am hearing the story of our U-23 team camping in the U.S. 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 has problems, 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 sports federations 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 U.S. appeared to him like a story.