The Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN, has seen the emergence of Tonobok Okowa as the new president of the organisation. Okowa is the Delta State Sports Commission head and now has the task of managing the new AFN board and leading the organisation and the athletes to Tokyo and beyond.
Okowa’s appointment comes as the nation’s best athletes gather in Lagos at the Yabatech Sports Complex on June 17, 2021, to compete in the 2021 National Champs and Invitational Relays in preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Eleven different events will be hosted on the opening day.
Nigerian athletes have missed many international events, including the international relay champs in Poland in May 2021, due to squabbles and infighting amongst officials of the AFN which have escalated for the past four years – between two AFN members, Shehu Ibrahim Gusau and Olamide George. Gusau and George met with representatives of World Athletics and its African confederate, the Confederation of Africa Athletics, CAA, who held both Zoom and physical meetings with them in Abuja.
The clash came after a faction of the AFN, led by Olamide George, pointed to alleged constitutional infractions committed by Shehu Ibrahim Gusau, and his alleged violation of the World Athletics Integrity Code of Conduct, bordering on a conflict of interest. This arose from a payment of a contractual fee by a sports shoe firm, into the bank account of a company allegedly owned by a member of the board, who, together with Gusau negotiated the deal reportedly on behalf of the Federation.