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Former sports minister, Dalung speaks on D’Tigress unpaid allowances

Former minister of sports, Solomon Dalung has stated that he should not be blamed for the unpaid allowances of D’Tigress, Nigeria women’s basketball team.

Recall that on Wednesday, members of D’Tigress in a viral video had lamented that they are being owed allowances and bonuses by the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF).

The women’s basketball team also threatened to boycott future call-ups to represent Nigeria for the 2022 World Cup qualification series if all outstanding allowances are not paid.

The development had prompted a response from the sports ministry, who averred that their money is “intact in the Nigeria Basketball Federation’s (NBBF) official domiciliary account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).”

Sunday Dare, minister for sports, had also said that “these are allowances are owed since 2017 when I was not even the minister.”

Dalung who was sports minister (between 2016 and 2019) in a chat with Arise TV on Friday said the buck of the blame shouldn’t be on him.

He also claimed that the issue of unpaid allowances didn’t start in 2017 but in 2018 after D’Tigress participation at the FIBA World Cup.

The former minister said President Muhammadu Buhari had then approved N1 billion remuneration for D’Tigress after their performance at the competition but the money wasn’t released until August 2019 after he had left the office.

“In 2017, there were no issues. Because when they won, I was given three days notice, and I immediately reached out to the presidency and got them to meet with the federal executive councils,” Dalung said.

“The president appreciated them, and the handshake was with N1 million each for the players and N500,000 for the coaching crew. Immediately after the FEC meeting, they provided their account details to the ministry in less than 24 hours, and this money was disbursed to them. So no issue in 2017.

“The issues we are talking about are as a result of their participation at the 2018 FIBA World Cup. We had budgetary issues with their qualification because there was a provision made in the budget, which was presented to the national assembly and returned far below what we expected. Which we now have to fall back on intervention, and I approached the president, and he said, ‘put up your memo for me to consider.’

“And the federation presented a memo of about N1.5 billion covering their preparation and participation in the 2018 World Cup. This memo was not even presented to the ministry on time, so we were caught up with a way to spend. Then the president of the federation said we could be able to raise funds to sustain the competition, and we could address the issues later.

“The girls went to the competition and made the country proud. So when we came back, I approached the president and he approved N1 billion, covering the cost. I kept pursuing it, and the funds were not released until when I left office. The funds were released in August 2019. N1 billion approved by the president came out in August 2019. And I wasn’t the minister then. So passing the buck of the blame to me is not the best way. The best way is for the ministry to come out clean and apologise.”

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