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. The discovery was contained in the report on the 2015 review on the use of FIFA Development Funds. In the report of the review prepared by a globally reputed audit firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters, FIFA said it detected that the sum of $801,229 was spent by the NFF without evidence supporting the disbursement.
In performing the review, FIFA said it observed “circumstances, which may indicate or lead to misuse of funds (defined as cases where the use of FIFA Development Funds could not be traced to supporting documentation or the use was not aligned with FIFA-prescribed purposes) or other non-compliance with FIFA regulations.” Tagged the Central Review Report, the findings were shared with Fatma Samoura, FIFA Secretary-General; Patricia Waldvogel, FIFA’s Head of Consolidation and Compliance; Kjetil Siem, acting Chief Member Association Officer; Fredric Guillemont, FIFA’s Deputy Head of Development Programmes; Mr. Muhammed Sanusi, General Secretary, NFF; Mr. Emmanuel Ikpeme, Deputy General Secretary, NFF; Christopher Anderkin, NFF’s Deputy Director (Finance and Administration); David Mason, FIFA Senior Relationship Manager; and Richard Thomas, Engagement Leader, PwC.
The report of the review, conducted from August 16 to 18, 2015, listed its objective as the inspection of NFF’s adherence to the global body’s regulations on the use of funds provided for development in the 2015 calendar year. Dated October 5, 2016, the report exclusively focused on reconciliation of funds provided to the NFF with NFF’s records, inspection of the fund usage as it complies with FIFA regulations. The PwC team, which carried out the review, contacted Messrs. Atabo and Aderibigbe of NFF for information on the use of the funds.
FIFA noted that all disbursements from FIFA Development Programmes were made in cash by the NFF. The NFF, the report stated, issued cash to its employees in charge of individual FIFA Development Programmes.
“We understand that these employees were then to use the money to pay other parties (i.e., suppliers) in connection with FIFA Development Programmes. Due to this process, it could not be determined if the final recipient actually received these funds. In reviewing the dedicated account, nine cases totaling $801, 929 were identified where there was no supporting documentation to substantiate the subsequent disbursements (i.e., the disbursements made by the NFF employee, if any),” the report stated. The global body said it observed opacity in fund usage, as the NFF management was unable to show that there was no fraud in the transactions conducted.
As a result, FIFA demanded that supporting documentation must be provided as proof of fidelity of all payments. The documentation required, explained FIFA, include contracts, invoices, proof of performance, delivery notes and confirmation of receipts, none of which the NFF provided.
FIFA warned that if the NFF could not provide adequate supporting documentation for the disbursements, it should make refund on sums unaccounted for. It expressed displeasure with the unrestrained practice of cash payments, which it said should have been greatly minimized. NFF’s response to the audit mishaps, signed by its Deputy General Secretary, Mr. Ikpeme, and obtained by SaharaReporters, was replete with admissions of errors, alleged oversight, and hazy explanations.
According to Mr. Ikpeme, the problem associated with payment for planning and administration was caused by the exchange rate.
“As at the time of making the payment, the exchange rate at the parallel market crashed alarmingly. That accounts for the difference in the sum reported, but all supporting documents are attached to the voucher,” he wrote.
On the expenditure on youth football, Ikpeme admitted an error in reporting that the sum of $92,375 was spent, as it was not drawn from the FIFA Development Fund. How this was captured as part of the monies withdrawn from the bank for that purpose remains a mystery.
The NFF Deputy General Secretary then promised that all the necessary attachments would be promptly made available for subsequent audit report/visit.
He, however, claimed that all the documents on infrastructure contract and evidence of part-payment were submitted. Curiously missing from documents tendered were invoices, the reason for which he said: “We promise to contact the contractor within two weeks to provide the office with invoices for payment made so far and same will be forwarded to PwC Switzerland.”
On the nine items identified by the audit review as featuring dodgy disbursements, Ikpeme said the NFF spent $150,000 on furnishing its new secretariat at the National Stadium, Abuja. The evidence of the transaction was not provided during the audit, but he claimed it was sent via email and DHL Courier service to PwC and receipt was acknowledged. Evidence of the use of $100,000 for the prosecution of the World Cup qualifier between Nigeria and Swaziland was similarly not available on request and had to be sent by email and DHL. The NFF, during the period under review, claimed it held two computer appreciation training sessions for all staff. The first gulped $29,665.19, while the other, within the same calendar year, cost $20,000. Payment evidence were sent through similar means.
The request for evidence of the sum of $367,304 spent on the CHAN qualifier between Nigeria and Burkina Faso was also not readily available and had to be sent via email and courier.
Another explanation for the yawning gap between money provided by FIFA and disbursements made by NFF, Mr. Ikpeme stated, was due to the Federation’s inability to capture transactions above $5,000. Many of the transactions conducted were above this amount. The inability, he said, was imposed by the inadequacy of space to offer explanations on transactions above $5,000. “However, we have noted this observation, and in future, we will work accordingly,” he wrote.
Mr. Ikpeme also admitted that lodgments made to FIFA dedicated accounts were made in error, promising it will not happen again.
“We have put measures in place to make sure that it is only money from FIFA that would be lodged in the FIFA dedicated accounts. Even with the new Federal Government policy on Treasury Single Account, we have written to the Federal Government through the Accountant-General for a dedicated FIFA account to be opened to avoid mixing up lodgments into FIFA dedicated accounts,” he similarly wrote.
The sum of $14,342 reported by the NFF auditor, said Ikpeme, was a “perceived typographical error.” He claimed that the figure earlier sent by the NFF is the correct one and is in consonance with the bank statements.
He explained that the NFF has no control over bank charges, as they are automated.
On questions raised about signatories to the FIFA dedicated accounts, Ikpeme said the NFF has two signatories – the General Secretary and Director of Finance – who are shown in signature cards sent by the bank to PwC.
These signatories, he added, are used for every transaction.
The report noted that administrators in FIFA member countries are adept at concocting documents to conceal misuse of funds and outright fraud in the deployment of such.