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2023 WAC Trials: Fresh Crisis Looms, as Hammer of AFN Top Brass Falls on ‘Rebel Board Members’

June, 29 2023.

It is now crystal clear, that a new twist has been added to the series of endless crisis that have bedeviled track and field in Nigeria, as the governing body, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), whose board members have in the last six years been at each others throat for self serving reasons, thereby completely relegating their core mandate of growing athletics, and caring for the welfare of athletes, be it at the grassroots or at the elite level.

The indication of another brewing storm in the AFN became rife and of common knowledge, when the federation rescheduled its trials to select Team Nigeria athletes, that will fly the banner of the country, at the World Championships, in Budapest, form July 6-9 to July 5-7, 2023.

In addition to announcing a new date for the trials in Benin, the AFN also named former Africa and Commonwealth Games long jump champion, Yusuf Alli as head of the organizing committee for the rescheduled trials, at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.

Yusuf Alli, who at present is the Chairman of the Edo State Sports Commission, will be working with Samuel Onikeku (AFN Technical Director), Victor Okorie (AFN Performance Director), Navy Commodore Nesiama Omatseye, Prof. Ken Anugweje, Enefiok Udo-Obong, Maria Wophill, Henry Okorie, Solomon Aliyu and the incumbent AFN Secretary General, Rita Mosindi. But in altering the date of the trials meant to give domestic and foreign legion of the nation's track and field star, a level platform to stake their claims for places in the team to Budapest, the circle of rancour in the AFN resurfaced. reliably gathered that

some of the board members, who were accused of allegedly forming ‘a rebel group’ against the AFN hierarchy, led by Tonobok Okowa were axed from the Organizing Committee, for a yet to be verified allegation that they were only busy scrambling for sponsorship money.

Multiple reports had it that, to no avail some members of the dissident group have in the last two days, been running from pillar to post, begging to be reinstated in the committee.

At the peak of the unfolding events, a former two-time AFN President, Chief Solomon Ogba, threw his weight of support behind the Okowa-led AFN leadership, by commending its board for choosing a seasoned and versatile Olympian as Yusuf Alli to head the organizing committee, of the 2023 trials for the World Championships holding in Budapest, the Hungarian capital, from August 19 - 28, 2023.

Ogba, who headed the Organizing Committee which in 2022 selected Team Nigeria stars for the World Championship in Oregon, United States and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, noted that Yusuf Alli has all the experience and competence to do a perfect job, and promised going to Benin on his return from London, to watch the best of Nigerian athletes on display.

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