Athletes participating in the All-Nigeria Athletics Championships (ANAC) at the Abuja National Stadium protested against poor welfare on Sunday.
The All Nigerian Athletics Championships which is being organised as a National Trials to select contingents for the All African Athletics Championship billed for Asaba in August started on Saturday and is scheduled to end today (Monday).
According to reports, the protesters had accused the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) of selfishness and callousness to their plight.
Some of the athletes during the course of the protest criticised the harsh welfare conditions with which they compete at every AFN organised event.
They also criticised the athletes’ representative on the AFN board for failing to accord them adequate representation.
Part of their complaints was that another board member, who felt concerned about the plight of the athletes and provided them with some assistance, was arrested on Saturday by some members of the AFN board.
An aggrieved protester, Isa Abdulwaheed while speaking with reporters said, “What happened is that the person who represents us at the AFN board is not doing his job.
“Another person who has been assisting us was arrested yesterday for providing shelter for us. So we want to ask them why they arrested the guy. They didn’t have an answer to it.
Some alleged AFN owed athletes outstanding allowances,
“We have not been rewarded for participating in the Golden League.
“This particular event being national trials, we are entitled to allowances, accommodation, feeding and transportation, but nothing is being provided.
“If you invite athletes from 36 states and you expect them to finance their stay in Abuja while competing to fly Nigeria’s flag, then we are not serious.
“Let the board members come and explain this to us by themselves,” the protester lamented.
However, the Technical Director of AFN, Sunday Adeleye, denied the allegations levelled against him by the athletes.
“Some athletes were protesting not being adequately taken care of. Of course, they always requested for more competitions and we’ve been able to organise more competitions than before.
“However, they want athletics to be as lucrative as football so that they can live on what they do as athletes.
“However, the allegations against me are untrue. We’ve been able to take care of athletes in the little way we can.
“This is a National Trials. So if one is not well informed; the mind ends up being poisoned.
“We call it All Nigeria Championships but we cannot take care of over 600 athletes by ourselves as a federation.
“How do we put over 600 athletes in hotels? It is called trials, where you come and try to be selected. If you are selected, then we will take care of you.
“Hopefully, we will resolve this quickly and resume proceedings,” Adeleye said.