By Millicent Ifeanyichukwu
Lagos – The unresolved election crisis in the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF) has forced the postponement of the annual PANAMAI Taekwondo Championships where athletes test their skills, the organisers said on Friday.
Ferguson Oluigbo, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that there was no way the crisis could be on and the competition would hold.
Oluigbo explained that the technical officials for the 2017 edition of the championships were members of the federation and could not participate since there was leadership crisis.
NAN reports that the 15th PANAMAI West Africa Open Taekwondo Championships was scheduled to hold at the National Stadium, Lagos, from Aug. 24 to Aug. 26.
“This championship is fully supported by NTF because we are affiliated to the body and being an annual event, we fixed the date hoping that the election would have been concluded.
“But regrettably, the present unstable state of things has adversely affected our championships because members of the board identifies with us which has always made it successful.
“For now, the championships has been shifted indefinitely until the election is conducted by the sports ministry and inauguration held, then we will reschedule a date,’’ the Taekwondo Referees Association Chairman said.
He appealed to athletes and officials that had registered their participation in the championships to bear with the situation, adding that it was to sustain the spirit of togetherness.
Oluigbo assured taekwondoists that the international nature of PANAMAI Championships and its hitch-free record must be sustained whenever it was held.
“I implore our fans to see reasons with us; the whole idea is to avoid a slip-shod hosting of the tournament because we usually have athletes and officials from countries in West Africa,’’ he said.
According to him, 180 athletes in the men and women categories from within and outside the country have registered their participation before the sudden postponement.
The president also disclosed that the athlete’s registration fees paid earlier as directed were being fully refunded as the event was no longer holding as scheduled.
NAN reports that George Ashiru, the NTF immediate past president, had alleged that there was a foul play in the polls organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports on June 13 in Abuja.
Ashiru lamented that the election was not free, fair and lacked credibility with everything done in secrecy.
He expressed shock over the omission of his name from the electoral list in spite of being in the master list produced after Margaret Binga was declared winner.
He condemned the manner in which the election was conducted and said that there was no form of election but nomination, hence his protest to the appeals committee.