What appears a face off between the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the Sports minister, Solomon Dalung over the shoddy flight arrangement for the U-23 Eagles from their training camp in Atlanta to Brazil for the ongoing Rio Olympics may have began.The NFF yesterday rejected insinuations by Dalung in a television interview that the issue of Nigeria Olympic football team being stranded in Atlanta, United States of America was a hoax.
Chairman of the NFF Media and Publicity Committee, Hon. Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, who is a ranking member of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, said the entire Board was shocked by the insinuations, as the NFF President, Mr. Amaju Pinnick, had been giving them updates of useful meetings he has been having with the Sports Minister since he arrived in Brazil on Tuesday.
“The NFF Board and Management are taken aback by these insinuations. The NFF President has been telling us of meeting between him and the Minister on how to avoid the kind of situation we got into in the USA in the future. So, the Minister’s latest statements are a bombshell.
“We are not openly challenging the Minister, but we must set the records straight. To start, we do not have any partnership with Delta Airlines, a company that we owe much gratitude for the way it came to the rescue to airlift our team to Brazil. The names of NFF’s partners and sponsors are known to the public.
“Secondly, the NFF is not aware of any receipt that was presented to the Minister for airlifting the U23 team from Atlanta to Manaus. I am aware that the Minister himself requested for the phone number of our FIFA Match Agent (Mr. Jairo Pachon, who has been working with the NFF since 2009) when everybody became desperate about how the team would go to Brazil. The NFF President gave him the phone number, and the Minister himself asked Mr. Pachon to go ahead and charter an aircraft, and Pachon reverted that the amount would be $174,000, as against the $300,000 that was bandied earlier. However, the money did not reflect in the airline company’s bank account within the deadline it gave to us, so the service was cancelled. We insist that Mr. Pachon acted in the best interest of Nigeria.”