Stories By Amaechi Agbo
President, Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, Amaju Pinnick has disclosed that federation will be transparent in spending the expected $500, 000 FIFA Grant,
Mr Amaju stated this Tuesday while providing updates on the FIFA’s annual grant and how the money would be spent.
The former CAF 1st Vice President noted that the money will be spent only on specified items as directed by the world football governing body and called on the football stakeholders to disregard any unconfirmed stories or rumours to the contrary.
The former Delta State FA boss noted that every expenses of the money which will be released to 211 federations of FIFA earlier in May would be transparently used and monitored by the ministry of youth and sports development as well as FIFA’s audit committee.
Mr Amaju made the clarifications following enquires made by football stakeholders and report asking questions on how the money would be utilised.
Every year, there are statutory allocations that federations receive from FIFA, for the smooth running of football in different federations. However, these funds come with statutory specific areas of obligations.
In other words; if FIFA gives you money for youth development, you cannot use that money for anything else.
The NFF has been accused of operating opaque financial transactions which has led to accusations of embezzlement, thievery and misappropriation.
The federation is currently under the watchdog of Nigeria’s ant-graft agency, the economic and financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the ICPC as it relates to corruption and mismanagement of funds meant for football development.
What FIFA has done now, though, is to release funds that were meant to be released later in the year, earlier. This is part of FIFA’s plans to help ameliorate hardships that this novel coronavirus has and will cause. It is not a palliative, as some have speculated.
To this regard, Pinnick said “It simply means the different federations are, in a manner of speaking, getting July’s allowances in May. Why? Because world football governing body recognises how much the economic & football landscape has changed and is making concerted efforts to mitigate the effects.
“Under normal circumstances, federations would have received these monies only after stringent financial regulations had been met. But these are difficult times and the normally stringent processes have been partially relaxed to enable football federations struggling, to meet up their financial obligations. Therefore the release of these funds is to enable football federations around the world continue their operational obligations to staff and other third parties. Even though these funds are going to be released early, all federations will still be required to follow the rules of spending them. FIFA hasn’t waived those rules. If a federation gets its allocation, it is expected to spend them on agreed parameters. FIFA’s vigorous auditing processes will still be in effect.
“In the coming days, weeks and months, the Nigeria Football Federation board will be doing all we can to mitigate the pressures on Nigeria’s football due to this novel virus. As I have always tried to do, everything we do will be above board.
“Again, these funds aren’t relief funds. There are simply statutory allocations that come with strict guidelines on usage. Hopefully, these trying times will be behind us soon and we can all get on with our lives. Let me quickly stress here that any decision taken about football in Nigeria will be taken in line with the directives of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Federal Ministry of Health.
“It is pertinent to note that every fund received by the federation goes through a stringent financial process of checks and balances before the funds are spent. Any monies received by the federation from FIFA, CAF or sponsors, are reported to the Honourable Minister of Sports with a detailed cover letter from these sources about spending regulations and requirements. So, aside FIFA auditing our accounts The Football Federation’s own external auditors usually go through these same accounts.
“While we are extremely grateful to FIFA for these statutory allocations, I’ll also stress that whenever more funds come from World Football’s governing body, the same process will be followed and details will be as transparent as we possibly can make them.
“Therefore I’d like to plead that unconfirmed stories & rumours should be disregarded and all enquiries about the federation can be forwarded to the NFF or to me for clarification.
“Finally, let’s always follow government’s directives and advisories on tackling this COVID-19 virus while practising social distancing, wearing face masks whenever we leave our houses and washing our hands with soap and running water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
“Hopefully, our lives will get back to normal soon and these trying times will be behind us.”