Abandoned Nigerian Athletes Beg For Financial Support, Open GoFundMe Accounts


Following failure of the Federal Government of Nigeria to financially back Team Nigeria for 2016 Olympic Games, the abandoned athletes have taken to social media to solicit for funds.

President Muhammadu Buhari met with athletes last week at the Old Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja and assured them that he would make sure he releases funds early enough ahead of the Olympics.

Official hand-over of team Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari to NOC in Abuja
Buhari last week assured athletes that funds would be available before the Games (NAN)

“Let me equally assure you that the Federal Government is fully committed to our delegation’s successful participation in the Rio Olympic Games and will ensure that funds budgeted for the Games are released without further delay,” the President is quoted to say by ThisDay Newspapers.

Despite the assurance from the President, the Sports Ministry have failed to support the athletes. The athletes in the week of July 17-23 received e-mails from the Sports Ministry informing them to pay for flight tickets to Brazil themselves.

Email from Nigeria's Sports Ministry
Email from Nigeria’s Sports Ministry (Colin Udoh)

Just so everyone knows we all got that message saying we should get our own tickets to Rio!

This led American-born Nigerian sprinter, Regina George and Nigeria’s fastest man and 100m Champion, Seye Ogunlewe jnr  took to Twitter and online crowd-sourced funding platform,GoFundMe to plead for financial support from individuals and corporate bodies.

Nigeria’s fastest man says in top form for 2016 competitions
Seye Ogunlewe jnr (Information Ng)

George represented Nigeria at the 2012 Summer Olympics and was the silver medalist at the African Championships in 2012.

Help get me to the Olympics 

Photo published for Help get me to the Olympics

Help get me to the Olympics

To all my family friends and fans thanks for being here for me through the good times and bad times. This year it’s been hard financially for me but it wouldn’t have been possible without your supp…

In a post titled ‘Help me get to the Olympics’ 400m specialist, Regina bemoans the lack of support from the government and pleaded to well meaning Nigerians to help her achieve her dreams of competing at the Olympics.

Solomon Dalung
Sports Ministry, headed by Solomon Dalung has informed the athlete to pay for their flight tickets to Brazil by themselves (Facebook/Solomon Dalung)

To all my family friends and fans thanks for being here for me through the good times and bad times. This year it’s been hard financially for me but it wouldn’t have been possible without your support,” she adds.

I just been told that we will have to pay our own way to the Olympics this year. Sadly this is such short notice for me to come up with the money.

Regina George
Regina George (African Athletes )

They (Sports authorities) also promised a refund but I’m still waiting for many refunds promised in the past. I been through a lot of obstacles this year and through it all I made my SECOND Olympic team. I don’t want to stop now after I earned a spot to represent my country (Nigeria) in the Olympics.

Any donation will help my situation. This will not go unnoticed and I’m truly grateful for my supporters.”

At the time of filing this report, George had gotten about N701, 000 ($1895) from donors.

GoFundMe account of Regina George
GoFundMe account of Regina George (GoFundMe )

Shot-putter, Nikki Okwelogu also set up her own account on GoFundMe account and she has N235, 000 ($635) as at the time of this report.

Nikki Okwelogu's GoFundMe account
Nikki Okwelogu’s GoFundMe account (GoFundMe)

All efforts to get words from the Athletics Federation of Nigeria(AFN) and the Ministry of Sports have so far been unsuccessful.

Nigeria’s sports Minister, Solomon Dalung last week revealed that 86 athletes will represent the country at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

NB: N1=$378

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