Following failure of the Federal Government of Nigeria to financially back
President Muhammadu Buhari met with athletes last week at the Old Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja and assured them that he would make sure he releases funds early enough ahead of the Olympics.
“Let me equally assure you that the Federal Government is fully committed to our delegation’s successful participation in the Rio Olympic Games and will ensure that funds budgeted for the Games are released without further delay,” the President is quoted to say by ThisDay Newspapers.
Despite the assurance from the President, the Sports Ministry have failed to support the athletes. The athletes in the week of July 17-23 received e-mails from the Sports Ministry informing them to pay for flight tickets to Brazil themselves.
This led American-born Nigerian sprinter, Regina George and Nigeria’s fastest man and 100m Champion, Seye Ogunlewe jnr took to Twitter and online crowd-sourced funding platform, GoFundMe to plead for financial support from individuals and corporate bodies.
George represented Nigeria at the 2012 Summer Olympics and was the silver medalist at the African Championships in 2012.
In a post titled 'Help me get to the Olympics' 400m specialist, Regina bemoans the lack of support from the government and pleaded to well meaning Nigerians to help her achieve her dreams of competing at the Olympics.
“To all my family friends and fans thanks for being here for me through the good times and bad times. This year it’s been hard financially for me but it wouldn’t have been possible without your support," she adds.
“I just been told that we will have to pay our own way to the Olympics this year. Sadly this is such short notice for me to come up with the money.
“They (Sports authorities) also promised a refund but I’m still waiting for many refunds promised in the past. I been through a lot of obstacles this year and through it all I made my SECOND Olympic team. I don’t want to stop now after I earned a spot to represent my country (Nigeria) in the Olympics.
"Any donation will help my situation. This will not go unnoticed and I’m truly grateful for my supporters.”
At the time of filing this report, George had gotten about N701, 000 ($1895) from donors.
Shot-putter, Nikki Okwelogu also set up her own account on GoFundMe account and she has N235, 000 ($635) as at the time of this report.
All efforts to get words from the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and the Ministry of Sports have so far been unsuccessful.
Nigeria’s sports Minister, Solomon Dalung last week revealed that 86 athletes will represent the country at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Watch athletes complaining about the poor treatment meted out to them below.