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NFF explains programs on which FIFA money was spent

24 December 2016, 07:58

Abuja - The Nigeria Football Federation on Friday said it was not averse to the planned audit of its books, while also providing details of the programs and activities on which the much-talked-about $801,929 part of a FIFA grant was spent.

Sahara Reporters had reported that the world football governing body, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), has detected discrepancies in the use of funds it provided the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for the development of the game in the country.

But NFF President Amaju Pinnick recalled that at inception of the Board, the concern for fiscal discipline necessitated its decision to bring in PriceWaterhouseCoopers as its external auditors and Financial Derivatives as financial consultants.

“These are globally –renowned firms with reputation to protect, and we did not hesitate to bring them on board with us. We can also say with every sense of sincerity that they have each been doing a great job.

“In as much as this is supposed to be a confidential matter, as it is not a forensic examination as being touted, we feel a sense of responsibility to provide further details on the programs on which the money was spent. Some persons are already claiming NFF embezzled money; it is unfortunate.

“I don’t think we will find people who will come forward and tell us that Nigeria did not play friendly matches against DR Congo and Cameroon in Belgium in October 2015, or that the Super Eagles did not play Burkina Faso in CHAN qualifying matches in the same month, or that the Eagles did not play Swaziland home and away in a preliminary round (November 2015) before qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup group phase.

“We are not averse to the planned audit of our accounts; what we do not welcome is the litany of distractions and dark innuendoes that the whole matter is generating, and its implications for our preparations for the final phase of qualifying for 2018 FIFA World Cup finals.”

Pinnick said the NFF is blameless for the use of form T-10 {which is acceptable in government transactions) and the issue of cash transactions.

“These issues are coming up because of new reforms and new management procedures being adopted by FIFA. The form T-10 was the practice all the way before this Board came into office. And getting some of our players to open bank accounts for online payments has not been easy.

“Of course, we have taken all the lessons and advice from this report to heart, and we have now modified our payment structure.”  

Also read: REVEALED: Football agents bribe Nigerian coaches to invite players to camp

Programs on which the money was spent

. International Friendly Matches (Nigeria Vs Cameroon & Congo in Belgium)

. CHAN Qualifier (Burkina Faso Vs Nigeria)

. Processing of Visa for U17 in Ghana

. Computer Appreciation Course

. Outstanding Hotel Bills to Serob Legacy Hotel

. Camping And Scouting of U17 Players

. Additional for Tanzania Vs Nigeria AFCON Qualifier

In its response on the issue, FIFA made it clear it was a matter between it and NFF and it would be resolved in the shortest possible time.           

FIFA is fully committed to supporting the member associations as we continue to improve our processes and structures. In light of this, FIFA recently introduced new requirements for the management and administration of development funds allocated to its member associations. In cases of insufficient information as to the management of those funds FIFA may suspend the ordinary flow of such funds until a full understanding of the situation is achieved.  FIFA continues to work and cooperate with the respective member in order to obtain the required information and, if needed, install the appropriate procedures and controls for such development funds. FIFA are confident that by working together with the Nigeria Football Federation, the issues will be resolved.

On Thursday, NFF 2nd Vice President Shehu Dikko broke down the issues in an interview, captured below:

1. Separate FIFA accounts from NFF general accounts (TSA) as FIFA wanted a dedicated account for their monies, for proper monitoring. This is a fundamental condition for receiving future funds, and indeed NFF complied within one month, working with Central Bank of Nigeria to open sub-TSA account for only FIFA monies. Details of the sub-TSA account have been forwarded to FIFA.

2. FIFA wanted NFF, in the future, to ensure that when reporting FIFA money expenditure, it reports both the budgets for the projects/activities and final expenditure, and any differential above 20% must be explained on a separate FIFA form.

3. FIFA wants any individual expenditure above the sum of $5,000 (Five Thousand American Dollars) to be reported in a separate FIFA form as required by FIFA process.

4. FIFA wanted NFF to ensure proper audit of bank charges and reporting on separate FIFA forms to ensure the banks did not overcharge NFF and/or is not used to misapply funds. In fact, FIFA went through the bank statements and cited all bank charges for FIFA monies, which was very difficult as the account contains funds other than FIFA’s, and the figures NFF reported and those of FIFA only had marginal difference of a few hundred dollars.

5. Fundamentally, FIFA warned against cash transactions and advised that these be reduced to the barest minimum or avoided completely. FIFA advised that even players and officials’ allowances should be paid into their bank accounts. NFF has been trying to implement this, as seen in the mode of payment for the players and officials of the Super Falcons after their AWCON triumph.

6. This brings us to the issue of $801,929, which was the figure FIFA found in transactions in which NFF paid cash to Team Secretaries of some National Teams or Accounts Staff for disbursement to players and officials as bonuses and/or for service suppliers. Players and officials and/or service suppliers signed the forms T-10 (which is acceptable as receipt by Nigeria Government) that they received payments. FIFA has now demanded they require additional documentation to further confirm that the third party beneficiaries have received the funds. The NFF has forwarded the required additional documentation to FIFA and FIFA has acknowledged receipt.

The matches in consideration here are the international friendly between Super Eagles and Congo (played in Belgium in October 2015); international friendly between Super Eagles and Cameroon (played in Belgium in October 2015); the African Nations Championship qualifier between the Super Eagles and Burkina Faso (October 2015); the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier between Nigeria and Swaziland (November 2015); processing of the Golden Eaglets’ visas to Chile in Ghana et cetera.

The NFF duly reported this matter to the Honourable Minister even though the matter is still under confidentiality between FIFA and NFF, until all answers are provided for questions asked. NFF transmitted a letter to the Honourable Minister on 10th November 2016 conveying the letter from FIFA and NFF’s response.

FIFA made it clear in their own document that it is not a forensic examination and does not affect FIFA decision to grant development funds to Member Associations. It is only a Central Review Process for 2015 to see how to improve the process of management and application of FIFA development funds. Nigeria was chosen as one of the MAs for the pilot. FIFA made it clear it was a confidential document meant for only certain number of people who were listed, and warned that the report should not be quoted or used for any other purpose, or by third parties.

The report analyzed the key issues in three sections: Findings, Risks Associated with the findings and; Recommendations to NFF. The implies it is clearly a report to make things better done under confidentiality, but the NFF wanted to be transparent and gave a copy to the Honourable Minister, as well as NFF’s response.

Who are the persons in charge of the NFF Finance Department? They are: Director of Finance and Head of Internal Audit. These are Federal Government Staff from the Office of the Accountant General and Office of the Auditor General respectively. These persons are solely responsible for the management, documentation and reporting of NFF finances as eyes of the Government in NFF, and even they dealt directly with the FIFA appointed auditor on this matter. Even the FIFA Letter was to their attention, as well as a few other persons. So, technically, NFF finances and its management are in the hands of trusted Government Staff who are of directorate level.  

In September, News24 reported that the Nigeria Football Federation has condemned, in very strong terms, a report in some media outlets including America’s Cable News Network (CNN) that it cannot fly the Super Eagles to a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Ndola on Sunday, 9th October 2016.  

For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page.

- News24 Nigeria

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