It has come to our attention that a letter has been sent by the ‘Director General’ (DG) of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), to Athletics Kenya (AK) and other African Federations, claiming that the 3rd MoC Grand Prix held on 30th and 31st March 2021 was not sanctioned by the AFN, which has led to AK claiming that Ferdinand Omanyala’s Kenyan National Record of 10.01s achieved at the 3rd MoC Grand Prix on 30thMarch 2021 would not be ratified.
Furthermore, we are also in possession of a letter dated 9th April 2021, titled Dissociation from Inaugural Making of Champions (MoC) Relays in Nigeria, which was also sent to several African Athletics Federations by the same DG, claiming that “we (AFN) can’t guarantee anything about the event from the technical knowhow of the technical officials to be used, to the safety of the representatives coming to Nigeria.”
Firstly, the Making of Champions (MoC) has been in partnership with the AFN since the 1st Edition of the MoC Grand Prix on 12th–14th June 2018, and the 2nd Edition on 15th–16th June 2019. All the results from every edition of the MoC Grand Prix, including the 3rd Edition on 30th–31st March 2021, were valid and legitimate, and it can easily be verified online that all the results have long since been ratified by World Athletics. Within Nigeria, only the AFN can ratify and send results to World Athletics, which has clearly been the case with the MoC Grand Prix.
AFN has not suddenly ‘un-sanctioned’ the MoC Grand Prix. Rather, there has been an ongoing dispute in Nigeria, since 2019, with regards to the leadership of AFN which is yet to be resolved. In December 2019, the duly elected and constituted AFN Board attempted to suspend its President amidst several allegations, but the AFN President forged ahead with a ‘Congress’ without the majority of the AFN Board who he unilaterally ‘counter-suspended’. It is at this ‘Congress’ an attempt was made to change the AFN Constitution and declare ‘autonomy’ from the Ministry of Sports. It was also at this ‘Congress’ that the position of ‘DG’ was created – it did not even exist in the AFN prior to that.
The AFN Board, through its Acting President, and backed by Nigeria’s Ministry of Youth & Sport, have arranged several Meets across Nigeria in 2021, to help Nigeria’s and Africa’s Athletes qualify for the Olympics (including the 3rd MoC Grand Prix), which have continued to be ratified by World Athletics. Though we (MoC) are not privy to any such conversations, we would like to believe that AFN, the Sports Ministry and World Athletics are in discussions to resolve this long running issue of the recognized AFN leadership, because it is damaging the sport in Nigeria, with the Athletes suffering the consequences as the Olympics approaches.
MoC is a private organization that has sponsored Athletes and Competitions in Nigeria for the last 7 years. Though it is not our place to comment on the internal affairs of the AFN, we have now been caught in the middle of a dispute in which we have no interest in being involved, and it has become necessary to speak out to clear the good name of our Competition. We would advise all those concerned to be wary of any communication from AFN calling the legitimacy of our competitions into question until these matters in Nigeria are resolved. If still in doubt, we suggest that you contact World Athletics directly for further clarification on all related matters.
On a final note, we would urge World Athletics to step in with urgency to resolve any outstanding issues within AFN, as letters such as what was written about the MoC Grand Prix will affect the chances of Nigerian and other African Athletes hoping to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and may hinder Nigeria’s participation in international events. For instance, Nigeria currently runs the very real risk of not attending the World Relays in just over 2 weeks, the African Championships in June or even the World U20 Championships in August, if this continues.
Further, we have postponed the inaugural MoC Relays which had initially been set for 23rd and 24th April to aid in Nigeria’s qualification for all 5 Olympic Relays and shall communicate a later date at the appropriate time. As a private organization we will continue to do everything we can to work with the Ministry of Youth & Sports and the AFN to bring Nigeria back to its glory days in Athletics by developing Athletes, bringing Sponsors into the Sport and hosting Competitions that will project Nigeria in a positive light across Africa and globally.