Wednesday, July 14, 2021

National Hockey League: How Kaduna State Commissioner For Sports Allegedly Diverts Money Meant For Teams


Corruption allegation trailed the celebration of the 2021 National Hockey League champions, Kada Stars who defeated Police Machine 3-0 on Saturday to lift the League title.

BSN Sports gathered that the sum of six million and five hundred thousand naira which was released by the Kaduna State government to the Commissioner for Sports, Kabiru Mato, did not get to the teams to whom the fund was released to execute the just-concluded 2021 Hockey League in Abuja.

As the players were celebrating on their win in the final, this reporter was surprised to see some of them crying. And when asked, they recounted their ordeal on the road to final, saying they played on empty stomach because match bonus could not be paid by the team management.

Muhammed Ndana, the Team Manager of Kada Stars said the management could not perform magic as money budgeted for the team was allegedly siphoned. He lamented on how they lived from hand to mouth and had to beg players to play on empty stomach. He alleged that the sum of Six Million and Five hundred thousand naira (#6.5m) was released to the State Commissioner for Sports for the male and female teams to execute the 2021 Hockey National League in Abuja.

He stated that the sum was released by the Kaduna State government to the Commissioner for Sports, Kabiru Mato, before they left Kaduna for Abuja but gave the team management meager amount out of the money to take care of the two teams leading to the players and officials suffering during the Championship.

He said, “The sum of Six million and five hundred thousand naira (#6.5m) was released to the Commissioner for Sports Kaduna State (Kabiru Mato) for both male and female teams to execute the Hockey National League in Abuja but just meager amount was given to the delegation of both teams and told us that the balance will be sent to us in Abuja.

“All our efforts to get money for players bonus proved abortive and until the day of the final match on Saturday, he gave us another five hundred thousand naira (#500,000). He told BSN Sports.

“It has been a rough journey from Kaduna to Abuja, Ndala continued.
“We were given a meagre amount of money to come in and believe they will strengthen the team with some money later but unfortunately it did not work as they promised up till date.”

Ndala added, “We tried as much as possible to curtail the boys and ladies teams but there are certain things we cannot continue to tell them about payment for allowances, accommodation even purchasing of some training equipment. The girls won their third place match, they lost yesterday to Delta, in a match a draw could have given them the opportunity to play in the final. But, I believe it was psychological problem due to the unpaid allowances but today (Saturday) Engineer Samuel boosted their morale with some amount which pushed them to win the third place game with 2-0.

He commended the state governor, Nasir El Rufai on his financial support for the team.

“To be candid the governor has been doing his best supporting the team in both national and international tournaments but funding given to us has never got to the team. The real cash never got to the real players on the field. That has been a problem in Kaduna State and honestly speaking i don’t really know where the problem is, if it’s the ministry of sports or from the finance office.

A player who pleaded anonymity corroborated the Team Manager, he said, “This is not the first time this will happen to us, when money will be released and will not get to us. When we went for the U21 Hockey Championship, the government released Two million and five hundred thousand naira (N2.5m) for the tournament but Seven hundred thousand naira (#700,000) was given to the management and he promised that when we got there, the balance will be sent to us before the end of the tournament but up till today, he has not given us the money.

When contacted, Kabiru Mato, the Commissioner for Sports Kaduna State, he refused to comment on whether or not fund meant for the team was released to him.

“That is not a problem. That’s not our problem. If that’s how you people fight, you can go ahead. If you will just pick a story on the street and begin to make news out them, you can go ahead. Who sponsored them to Abuja? Are you the one who paid their money for their transportation? Are you the one who is feeding them? He asked rhetorically.

He directed this reporter to speak with the coach stating that he would not comment on it.

“Go and meet the coach and let him talk to you because I will not talk to you on the issue.” He said and ended the call angrily.

Yusuf Joshua, Kaduna State Deputy Director of Sports admitted that the team is being owed but assured that they will be paid when the money is released.

“What actually happened was that part of their money was released and you know our government of today they always cry of paucity of funds. It’s not as if they’re not going to be paid. As I am speaking with you now, myself, the Director of Sports and Permanent Secretary have to go to see the Commissioner for Finance in respect of the money. But we are trying to push so that they can be paid. We want them to receive all their dues. This is the first time this is coming up. This is a team that has always brought glory to us, they always excel in every competition and that is why we must settle all their dues. We need to encourage them and that is the least we can do.

He added that they’re working tirelessly in making sure that the money is paid to the team, “The Secretary of Hockey Association has been asked to put up a request by giving us the breakdown and he submitted the breakdown of about Five point something million which we we extended to the government for approval. And the money is approved, it will then go to the budget and planning bereau. We’ve gotten the released as I am speaking with you now. What we’re now waiting for is cash backing. Meanwhile, our commissioner on his own has taken the responsibility upon himself he has gone round to give them about One million and five hundred thousand naira.

Meanwhile, the Director of Sports, Yakubu Ibrahim was angry when he was asked if the players and officials will be paid their dues soon.

He said, “From who did you get this information that money has not been released? Is it from the coach, the technical crew or secretary or who? As Journalist if you want to get information correctly get it from the source.

“It is only the ministry that will tell you details of what is happening. Somebody can not just tell you something in Abuja and began to work on it. We know these players more than you.” He said and ended the conversation on phone.

Kada Stars have won many laurels for Kaduna State in recent time. The team emerged champions in the national sports festival in Edo 2020 and Abuja 2018. The state won the U16 Hockey champions back to back, since the inception of U16 at the National Youth Games Ilorin.
They won gold in the national league four times, the ladies team won the national league back to back for four times before losing out to be placed third this year.
The team went to Egypt to represent Nigeria and they came third.

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