By Ben Efe
Athletics Federation of Nigeria Board membership elections concluded yesterday at the National Stadium Abuja were marred by protests and fisticuffs, even as Ibrahim Gusau emerged as president.
Delegates to the election were stunned when they arrived at the venue on Tuesday morning to find out that some of their prospective candidates have either been disqualified or their names replaced in the list of eligible candidates.
Rosa Collins who earned her place on the AFN board on the platform of Nigeria Women in Sports had her name replaced by Gloria Obajimi who was not present when the NAWIS elections were held. Brown Ebewele who won the technical and coaches’ election had his name replaced by Gad Onumegbu, while former AFN technical director was disqualified for not having tax clearance, even when he proved that he was up to date with documents. From this point, it was clear that the Sports Ministry had their preferred candidates.
However, Collins was allowed to contest after the Sports minister changed the rules mid way to accommodate candidates who had no constituency. But the damage had already been done; Gusau garnered 48 voted, while Collins collected two votes. Likewise, in the vice president election, Olamide George beat Mary Onyali with 43-3 votes.
Just before the votes were taken, tempers boiled over and coach Onumegbu hit former 400m runner Charity Opara across the face and there was pushing and shoving, Collins was also rough handled by an officer in plain clothes.
“What happened here is clearly a charade. We came here only to find out that my name and others who are in line with my views have been disqualified or replaced.
“Definitely we are looking at our options and we will react accordingly. This is nothing short of a conspiracy,” Collins stated.
But Gusau stated that the elections were all embracing as many stakeholders had the opportunity to pick their choice of president. He added that he will do his best to revamp the moribund sport.
“I was here four years ago with a plan. But now I am going to redouble my efforts to ensure that our sport is where it should be.
“I will also reach out to those who have lost. I know how painful it is to put in a whole lot of work only to come short.”
Other federation elections went on as scheduled.