A member of the Technical Committee of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Seigha Porbeni, has said he is very optimistic that the federation’s President, Tonobok Okowa, has nothing to hide, particularly, as it concerns its financial records.
“As his Special Adviser (SA) at the Delta Sports Commission, I can beat my chest that he (Okowa) has nothing to hide when challenged,” he said in a message to The Guardian.
Porbeni made the explanation, yesterday, while speaking on why he wrote a letter to the Sports Minister, John Enoh, on issues concerning the federation.
In a letter dated January 31, 2024, and addressed to the Sports Minister, Porbeni said: “I write in my capacity as the National Head Coach of the above mentioned Federation and also a stakeholder of the Federation. “It is no longer news that there has been a lot of misunderstanding among the hierarchy of the board.”
The AFN had set up a five-man committee on September 16 to investigate its finances. The panel report had, among other things, questioned some financial transactions made by AFN Secretary General, Mrs Rita Moshindi.
But some individuals, including athletes and coaches, picked holes in the panel’s report, particularly its objection to the refund of N40 million, which AFN President, Chief Tonobok Okowa, lent the federation to organise some competitions, including the Golden League, pending when it received money from their lead sponsor, Premium Trust Bank.
Porbeni was among those that critised the audit panel reports then, describing it as ‘big distraction.’
Speaking with The Guardian, then, Porbeni, said: “When two elephants fight, they say it is the grass that suffers. All these audit committee reports are serious distractions because AFN’s programme’s funding for the 2024 season has not been discussed by the board for approval and release for effective training of both athletes and coaches.”
Porbeni’s letter to the Sports Minister on January 31, advising him to invite External Auditors to review the report of the internal audit committee and take necessary came as a shock to many athletics followers.
However, Porbeni explained to The Guardian, yesterday, why he wrote to the Sports Minister saying: “Yes, I spoke earlier about distractions. I also spoke about the grasses suffering when two elephants fight. I seek for whatsoever means to bring to a permanent resolution to prevent further distractions and suffering of the grasses.”
He continues: “What is the big deal bringing external auditors? The President (Okowa) goes through that annually in Delta Sports Commission, and as his Special Adviser (SA), I can beat my chest that he has nothing to hide when challenged. If this would bring lasting peace, why not?.”