The Ministry of Youth and Sports will receive its budgetary allocation for the Rio Olympics by Wednesday July 20, 2016.
The Director General, Budget Office of the Federation Mr Ben Akabueze gave the assurance on Monday at a meeting of the House committee on Sports held with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Accountant-General of the federation, the Nigeria Olympic Committee and the Director- General, Budget office of the federation at the House of Representatives, National Assembly, Abuja.
The Deputy Chairman, House committee on Sports, Hon Anayo Nnebe had enquired why funds budgeted for the Olympic Games in Rio were yet to be released barely three weeks to the opening ceremony.
“The committee resolved to invite the Minister of Finance, the Director General Budget, the Accountant -General of the federation, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, the Permanent Secretary and the President Nigeria Olympic Committee because Nigerians are worried that up till now, funds have not been released for the Olympics.
“The implication is that almost every part of preparations for the games is on hold. We cant prepare without funds. Releasing funds just a few days to the games will not be good enough to prepare the athletes for the games” Hon Nnebe said.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development Barrister Solomon Dalung however assured that the Ministry had done its best in preparing 78 athletes for ten events despite the non availability of funds.
“Lack of funds has dampened the morale of the athletes at this time. They could have suffered from psychological inconveniences including poor nutrition, non-payment of allowances and other social problems and may not give you their best.
“The money is not just about training for the Olympics but other special needs of the participants. The failure to release funds up till this this time has placed us in great jeopardy. We have run out of goodwill because we haven’t even been able to pay back money borrowed in the cause of waiting for funds to be released”, Dalung said.
In his response, the Director-general, Budget office of the federation Mr. Ben Akabueze stated that his office had a budgetary allocation of N600m for the Olympics.
N415.6m was for preparations of Olympic and Paralympic Games and an allocation of N184.6m to the Nigeria Olympic Committee to facilitate the games proper out of which the ministry had sought the release of N503, 977,710m.
“You will recall the late approval of the budget and the challenges of processing this release which was occasioned by the long public holidays. The bottom line is that in a a day or two, the funds will be released” the DG assured.
One of the committee members and President, Cycling Federation of Nigeria Hon. Mohammed Nur Sheriff however urged the Budget office to also take a step further to ensure that the funds needed for the games were paid to the ministry in dollars to save them another long process of getting the foreign exchange value.
“We need to be proactive and engage the Central Bank of Nigeria in assisting in processing the procurement of foreign exchange pending when the funds are released”.
The Olympic village opens to athletes on July 24 while the opening ceremony is billed for August 5 2016.