Rivers State Hockey Association Chairman Arthur Jumbo has resigned from his post following allegations of embezzlement of funds at the Association, which has played a role in the crippling sports development in the state.
Jumbo, who until his resignation, had chaired the association for five years, disclosed to ACLSports.com that he had spent N1.2 million from his personal account to fund the state owned hockey team at the just concluded National Hockey Super League in Abuja organized by the Nigeria Hockey Federation, NHF.
According to the chairman, the delay in funding had led to a crisis among players during the course of the tournament, which he said affected the performance of his team at the Super League tournament.
“The boys got relegated finishing 7th out 8 teams that competed while the girls lost in the third place game finishing fourth and missing out on the Club side Championship to be held in Egypt later this year,” he said.
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In an attempt to settle the financial crises rocking the team’s performance at the tournament, former Rivers State Hockey captain met with the Rivers State governor who was in Abuja at that time for an official assignment.
Jumbo was shocked to hear the governor had no knowledge of their participation at the Super League. He later found out how their files were not submitted to the governor after application got to the sports council one month before the commencement of the Super League.
“The Association had submitted its application for funds one month before the competition started but our files were not forwarded to the sports ministry for approval.”
The governor dissolved his cabinet in July and as a result halted smooth run of sporting activities in the state. It is believed that the availability of a sports commissioner would have facilitated their demands.
“In the absence of a sports commissioner after the state governor dissolved his board, the Association had written and applied for funds which was not forwarded to the sports ministry by the then director of sports, Nathaniel Piaro.
“The file didn’t get to the commissioner and in short didn’t leave the sports council thinking they will send it to the ministry. On the day the former director of sport was changed, that was the day he took the file to the ministry and he said he was instructed not to send the file to avoid it from getting missing an idea I frowned at.”
A total number of 40 athletes represented the state at the Super League and it was expected that the money approved should cover the players allowance of N30,000 each, accommodation, feeding and transport.
The angered chairman revealed that N1.5 million was released to the Association to cover their expenses. He said the secretary, coaches and other officials of the Association decided to share the money released by the state government without telling him.
“The money finally came and I refused to go for this money when it was released because I wanted to be transparent. I asked one of my officials to go get the money and she returned telling me it was N1.2 million that was released. The money is N300,000 short of what I had spent from my pocket and excluding players allowances, transport etc,” Jumbo said .
“With this money you can’t pay these players, feed them, I spent N360,000 for transportation alone. I camped them for over two weeks which government didn’t do, fed them and also paid them allowances. If I knew government would release N1.2 million why didn’t I just change the name of the club to my own name (Arthur Jumbo Hockey team). To worsen it, the 1.2 million that was released was now been shared among the officials without my knowledge, without considering the players?” He asked.
“I didn’t see this money and wasn’t aware. I even sold my gold bracelet to make sure I have things running smoothly. I was spending N50,000 daily, even players that came from the west I had to beg them and give them 10,000 each for their transport back while others got N5,000 each based on their location I couldn’t take part in such a wicked act and that’s why I resigned,” he disclosed.
Jumbo who is a member of the Hockey Federation has leveled a complaint against the state association in which sanctions will be issued to the Rivers state Hockey team for their act of negligence against players welfare.
In total, they owe the players N1,000 each day for feeding during the 10 day competition, the two weeks pre-tournament camping in Port Harcourt and N30,000 allowance for each player.
Arhtur Jumbo represented the national hockey team at the 1986 U-21 Championship and at the All African Games in 2000.