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Chairman House Committee on Sports Lied Against Sports Minister – Official

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Kehinde Ajayi, Director and Head, Press and Public Relations Unit in the Federal Ministry of Sports Development has debunked the reports by Hon. Ekene Adams, the Chairman House Committee on Sports against the Ministry.

The statement reads: “The attention of the Ministry of Sports Development has been drawn to recent newspaper reports wherein Hon. Ekene Adams, the Chairman House Committee on Sports, accused the Honourable Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh of insincerity with the development of sports.

“Specifically, in his attempt to push this strange narrative, Honourable Adams said: “Why should the Minister still allocate budget for the renovation of and maintenance of the Ahmadu Bello stadium in the 2024 budget after the stadium had been handed over to the Kaduna State Government.” In yet another publication, he also accused the Honourable Minister of opaqueness in the disbursement of FG’s N12 billion Intervention Fund.

“After going through this self-serving news report, which is at best hollow, unfounded, and bereft of fact(s), it would appear that Hon. Ekene Adams takes for granted, the burden of the high office he presently occupies on behalf of his constituents and the responsibility that comes with it. Having acted in such an undignified and unparliamentary manner in the pursuit of his personal vendetta, our fear is that this sad commentary has the consequence of bringing to public odium and ridicule, the image of the legislature as an institution.This is sad.

“It is a common knowledge that Hon. Ekene Adams has been sick and indisposed since the beginning of this administration; he is at best, the Chairman of the House Committee on Sports in abstentia having to spend a lot of time in hospital taking care of his health. The Honourable Minister of Sports Development has had to visit him in his sick bed in the hospital at some point. He didn’t have to do this. As a result of this reality, it is safe to conclude that Hon Ekene is out of touch with reality and therefore incompetent to make an informed comment and fully appreciate the ongoing raft of reforms in the sports sector under the guidance and leadership of the Minister of Sports Development.

“The instance wherein Hon. Adams said: “Why should the Minister still allocate budget for the renovation and maintenance of the Ahmadu Bello stadium in the 2024 budget after the stadium had been handed over to the Kaduna State Government”, is a clear demonstration of his ignorance of the state of affairs within the sports sector and how out of touch he is.

“For the avoidance of doubt and to set the record straight, *NO BUDGETARY PROVISION WAS MADE FOR THE RENOVATION AND MAINTENANCE OF AHMADU BELLO STADIUM IN THE 2024 APPROPRIATION. If such a provision was made, it would still constitute an indictment on the Committee on Sports he chairs whose duty it is to scrutinize the budget before passage.

“The allegation of opaqueness in the disbursement of the N12 billion Federal Government’s Intervention Fund by the Ministry is spurious and untrue.

“First it is difficult to understand which N12b he is refering to. If it is the close to N12b that Mr. President intervened for outstanding debts owed various male and female football national teams, the Honourable Member should have been aware that the Honourable Minister instituted a new accountability and transparency process to ensure prudence in the management of the fund. He should have known that, although the entire money was released to the Ministry of Sports account, at the Honourable Minister’s directive, the entire sum was fully transferred to the account of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the appropriate body that incurred the outstanding debts, and this can be verified.

“Everyone in both the Ministry and the sector acknowledged and applauded this move as an uncommon display of transparency. Hon. Adams’ allegation of opaqueness is therefore founded on avoidable ignorance and / or mischief. Given the channels of communication the Minister already established with his committee, it would have been easy for Hon. Adams to seek and get clarification if only he wanted to play fair and in good faith.

“But if his reference to opaqueness in the disbursement of his so called N12b is in respect of the yet to be held Olympics and Paralympics Games in Paris, Hon Ekene should have known that there is at present, a request before Mr. President for funding intervention. For the avoidance of doubt, the request from the Ministry is fully backed up with a detailed breakdown of every expenditure item. The funds to be approved will be based on this detailed budget.

“The scorecard of the Honourable Minister speaks eloquently for itself. As a result of his leadership, there is a new atmosphere of transparency in the sports sector anchored on his belief that it is the only way that the private sector and corporate Nigeria can have the confidence enough to invest in the sports sector in an era of promoting sports as business.

“Unfortunately, what Hon. Ekene Adams is promoting in his pursuit of self interest is to demarket a sector he claims to own and know more than anyone else.

“At the African Games, the Hon Minister held a no holds barred session with athletes, during which he openly provided every detail of their entitlements to the last kobo. Again, this was hailed as the first of its kind. Even at the just concluded meeting of the National Council on Sports in Enugu, the Hon. Minister regretted that not every athlete and official had been paid but still gave assurances that under his watch, no one will either be short changed or denied his entitlements.

“Gladly, the Ministry is now in a strong position to put all matters about the African Games behind it within the next one week.This will still be a first, despite the regrettable delays.

“Having spent 20 years with the Legislative branch both at State and Federal levels, the Honourable Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh, holds this very important branch of government in the highest esteem; in both his private and official conduct, he has continued to show this respect. Since his appointment as Minister of Sports Development, Senator Owan Enoh has not failed to be personally present to attend to any invitation from the National Assembly.

“Unfortunately in all the sessions the Honourable Minister has held with the House Committee on Sports, the said Hon. Ekene Adams had not been available. Even the just concluded Council on Sports meeting was attended by a committee member in representative capacity.

“With unassailable character, undiluted patriotism, unwavering commitment and unrelenting work ethic that the Honourable Minister has continued to apply in the discharge of his duties, critical stakeholders at home and abroad, sports loving Nigerians, especially those who know the Honourable Minister well enough and are abreast with the great job he is doing in the Ministry of Sports Development will find Hon. Adams allegation of insincerity with the development of sports laughable, a personal vendetta taken too far.

“The ringing endorsement of the reforms initiated by the Honorable Minister by the just concluded meeting of the National Council on Sports composed of critical stakeholders drawn from the private sector, States and the Federal government, is indeed a defining moment in the march towards developing sports in our clime and taking it to greater heights in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the present administration.

“In spite of the muck raking campaigns orchestrated by powerful vested interests and reactionary forces who seek to put the ongoing reforms in the sports sector in reverse gear, the Honourable Minister will continue to initiate robust and constructive engagements with patriotic and critical stakeholders in the sports sector in line with the mandate of his office and the Renewed Hope Agenda of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration. In the discharge of his duties, national interest will continue to influence and shape his decisions. This commitment is not negotiable.

“The Honourable Minister will continue to resist attempts by forces propelled by selfish interest who will stop at nothing including the deployment of lies and campaign of calumny to have their way. His belief that no matter how powerful we think we are, the national interest remains the singular most important consideration in decision making, and remains unshakable.”

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