Hopes of making an appreciable impact at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is fast fading for the Dream Team as they are currently starving in their Abuja camp.
To this end, the Senate committee on Sports has summoned the Sports Minister, Barrister Solomon Dalung, to explain reasons for the team’s current situation in camp.
Speaking when the Minister appeared before the committee, the Chairman, Senator Obinna Ogba, lamented the unpalatable reports he has been getting from the camp, demanding for explanation from Dalung, just as he ordered him to wade into the problem.
According to Senator Ogba: “The NFF crisis brings me to the plight of players in the U-23 camp. Although the Minister has mentioned that all is well with the team, I want to inquire from him what I have been told concerning the team.
“I have been reliably told that it was even very difficult for the players and official to drink water during training because they have not been supplied with any. I was also told that it is also difficult for them to buy fuel for their official vehicles to take them from their hotel camp to the training ground.
“We want to know whether it is true and we urge you to make inquiry to find out if the complaints are true or some people are making up the story. The committee wants to also know how many events Team Nigeria will be participating in the Rio Olympic Games. We believe in the quality not quantity.”
Replying to the committee’s inquiry, Dalung said: “The problems at the U-23 camp have equally gotten to my table. But by my investigations, it has been like that for most of our football national teams.
“The problem is more notorious with football. I had to convert the permanent secretary into a cashier to travel to Senegal and pay the players and official directly. Will it surprise you that some of the coaches even came to my office to complain of salary arrears of five months.
“These funds are there but the federation have it rough because since there is no peace in football, the goodwill they enjoy from those that invest in football have been withdrawn. That is why they needed peace more than anything. I will need to talk to them to see how we can address the issue.”
While commenting on the number of events Team Nigeria will be participating in at the Olympics, Dalung said: “Let me also add that Team Nigeria will be going to Rio with eight events and some of our athletes as I said qualified with very good credential.
“We just need the camping to be able to monitor their current form to compare with those we are likely going to face in Rio. If we get the funds, we will open up camps.”