Nigeria’s Sports Minister Solomon Dalung has been defending his government’s failure to facilitate Nigeria’s para-athletes to pre-qualification competitions that would have enabled the team attend the ongoing world championships, in London.
It is day seven at the World Para Athletics Championships and one African sporting powerhouse conspicuous by its absence is Africa’s most populous nation -Nigeria.
Nigeria has several world record holders and champions who have missed the opportunity to defend their medals.
Mr Dalung also responded to criticism levelled at the government by Paralympic champion and world record holder Lauritta Onye who told the BBC, earlier this the week, that the government had abandoned the athletes.
In an interview with the BBC Hausa service Minister Dalung said that matters of qualification or pre-qualification were handled by the various local sports federations and their international counterparts.
He said that it was only when matters of qualification were resolved was the government approached for funding. However he said that sometimes the federations approached the government late and the processing of funds was “cumbersome”.
He speculated that Ms Onye may have been to blame for her own non-attendance.
“ If she got the invitation did she inform her federation? Did the federation inform the government on time?
“ If this information was not before the government, there is no way the government could bring out the money.”
On being asked for his reaction to sentiments that the government was not serious about para-athletics Solomon Dalung replied
“ [Those statements] are unfounded, they are maliciously conceived to malign the government.”