Amidst allegations of inconclusive election into the board of the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF), a new board of the body was on Wednesday inaugurated by the Nigerian sports minister, Solomon Dalung.
The board is headed by Margaret Binga whose route to the board was through Nigeria Women in Sports (NAWIS).
The minister charged the board to revive its federation’s grassroots development initiative and frowned at the use of recycled athletes in almost all the federations. He urged them to develop new ideas for getting new talents.
“I want to be invited to see young athletes of ten years old being trained. I’m tired of seeing recycled athletes who have been on stage for close to two decades.
“I will adjudge your performance on how committed you are to grassroots sports development because I am convinced that if you train young people today, our potential in future and our dominance in the next 10 to 20 years is guaranteed.
“We have depleted completely our professional athletes profile and we are just recycling them”, remarked the sports minister.
Dalung also urged the new leadership to resist presiding over the federation as sole administrator.
“Let me charge you that the era of sole administration is gone for good. Every Federation must hold regular meetings as provided for, quarterly. Inability to hold your quarterly meetings is inviting the board to sit and impeach you.
“It is a collective responsibility and the board is responsible to Nigerians.”
He also said that he’ll be strict with the prudent management of funds from donor agencies, sponsors and partners and directed that a constitution of the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation be developed within three months.
“Call a congress, adopt the constitution and deposit a copy with the Nigeria Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
“We shall not hold elections again with guidelines in future. Without a valid constitution, it means the Federation will be managed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and you cannot complain of interference by the Ministry.”
He recalled that the crisis in taekwondo was one of the first that welcomed him in office as a minister.
“I did everything possible to bring about reconciliation but the differences were sharp and contrasting.
“The crisis affected the performance of federation at the 2016 Olympics therefore, unity is very important in everything you do.
For those members who have held responsibility in the federation and are aggrieved, you must recognize their contributions to developing the federation.
“You must shield your swords of differences and give a leadership guide to support the development of Taekwondo in Nigeria. Taekwondo is one of the medals -fetching sports in Nigeria if there is unity of purpose among the members of the federation.”
In her acceptance speech, the newly inaugurated President, Margaret Binga, thanked the minister on behalf of the board and pledged total commitment to the uplift of Taekwondo in the country.
“I want to tell the minister that the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation board will not disappoint Nigerians.
“We thank you sincerely for inaugurating us today and we’ll kick start our programs immediately. We promise that we’ll go back to the grassroots, discover athletes and harness them.
“We’ll seat and chart a way forward and we promise that with God on our side, come Tokyo 2020 and the next all Africa games, we will be on the podium.”
Election into the board of the NTF had been crisis-ridden, leading to it not been conclusive at the general election into all the boards on June 13.
George Ashiru who contested for the post of the president was disqualified. According to the report of the election petition committee, he petitioned along with 20 state delegates.
Ashiru was nominated as ex-officio member. At the presidential Election, he was told that his name was not on the list by The Chairman of the electoral committee.
But the Appeal Committee noted that Ashiru’s name was wrongly substituted and found merit in his appeal and consequently nullified the presidential election and directed that fresh election be held and reinstate Ashiru as the Ex-officio/philanthropist/sponsor on the Board of the NTF.
The same situation also affected another petitioner, Temitayo Popoola who was on South West platform.
It was alleged that the master list was not used in the conduct of the election. Consequently, the Appeal Committee noted that the petitioners’ name was wrongly substituted, found merit in the appeal and consequently nullified the South West zonal election and ordered a fresh one.
According to a source in the board who did not attend the inauguration of the board, the rerun election never took place.
“When we were called to reassemble on July 21, we were kept waiting and it was obvious no election was going to hold. In frustration, some of the delegates left.
“It was then we were told that if we could form a quorum, which is 30, we should go ahead with the election. We could only raise 26 out of the expected 30. So we were told to disperse to be called up two weeks later.
That never happened. I am therefore shocked to learn that we were being secretly called to come for an inauguration after an inconclusive election”, remarked the board member,