Last weekend, Nigerian social media was awash with news that athletes representing the country in Rio 2016 Olympics, in Brazil were directed by the Ministry of Sport and Youth development to personally pay for their flight tickets.
The minister, Solomon Dalung, however, denied issuing any such directive and has summoned the secretary-general of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Olumide Bamiduro, who is believed to have sent the directive to the athletes via email correspondence.
Also summoned are ministry staff of the Federation of Elite Athletes Department (FEAD).
A mail purportedly written by the AFN secretary Bamiduro and sent via a BlackBerry smartphone had requested athletes to send an estimate of their tickets to Rio, with an assurance that refunds would be made if approved by the ministry for purchase by the athletes.
In a statement on Sunday, Dalung said the letter did not emanate from the Ministry and its author did it without “due consultation”.
“I hereby restate that no athlete has been authorised or asked to buy his or her ticket to the Olympic Games.”
“Whoever wrote the letter did so on his or her own accord without due consultation with the overseer of sports in the country which is the Ministry of Youth and Sports. We are totally committed to the welfare of our athletes and will ensure that they are not psychologically affected by distractions caused by this letter” Dalung assured.
Dolapo is a writer and journalist who works with YNaija. He has interests in Christianity, politics and sports.