Senate ‘aborts’ Super Falcons protest to Aso Villa

Nigeria's soccer team players run with balls during a training session AFP/Getty Images/ JEWEL SAMAD

Nigeria’s soccer team players run with balls during a training session AFP/Getty Images/ JEWEL SAMAD

FG has no money to pay them now, says Lai Mohammed

Members of the victorious Super Falcons held back their plan of taking their protest to the doorsteps of President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, following the intervention of the Senate Committee on Sports. But for the fifth day, the players refused to vacate their rooms at Agura Hotel in Abuja in protest over non-payment of their camp allowances, match bonuses and nine months salaries for their coaches.

However, the players’ dream of getting any positive result from the Presidency was dashed yesterday when the Minister for Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, said the government has no money to pay the players and their officials.

The minister, who fielded questions from State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting (FEC) on why government has yet to settle the footballers, attributed the development to the current economic recession in the country.

The Guardian learnt that the players had planned to storm the Presidential villa with various placards yesterday morning to register their grievances to President Buhari, but were prevented from carrying out the plan by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, Senator Obinna Ogba.

The players claim they are being owned over N238.05 accumulated bonuses. Camp allowances and match bonuses for the 23 players, excluding coaches and other backroom officials throughout the duration of the 10th African Women Nations Cup in Cameroon is said to be in the range of $25,000 (about N11.25 million).

One of the players, who spoke with The Guardian yesterday from the Agura Hotel in Abuja said: “On Tuesday evening, Senator Obinna Ogba called us to say that he was already aware of what we are passing through. He told us to be patient and that he will hold a meeting with other key members of the Senate Committee on Sports on Wednesday and get back to us in the evening. We have to respect him and that was why we decided to hold back our plan of taking the protest to the Presidential Villa.”

Another player claimed yesterday that they heard the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, has ‘abandoned’ them for a trip to London.“You can see that these people don’t really care about us. We just heard now that Amaju has travelled to London. To do what when we are suffering here?”

Lai Muhammaed said yesterday: ‎”Over time, it has become tradition to reward victorious athletes of sports persons but I think this is caused by the biting economic situation.”

The minister, however, noted that the girls’ demand for payment of their bonuses was germane, just as he disclosed that the matter was raised by the Minister for Sports, Solomon Dalung, for consideration at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The issue was raised by the Minister of Youths and Sport today and I think its being looked into. You see over time, this thing has become a tradition to reward our victorious athletes and sport persons.

“But I think its the biting economic situation, but I am sure it is being looked into by the Ministry of Sports… so truly it was reported under other matters at the council meeting,” he said.

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  • infinity2020

    Evil Senate !!! why did you stop the falcons protest ? They have the right to a peaceful protest. Is that part of your job? Senator Obinna do you know anything about the plight of these young people who are not being paid? This minister of sports must go NOW !!!. PMB wake up a lot of your ministers are idiots !!!!

    • Comfort Destiny

      I don’t blame those Ministers but the President for appointing those incompetent Ministers. No wonder the country is still languishing in recession with no sense of direction!

  • Comfort Destiny

    They worked hard and made Nigerians proud, putting smiles on the faces of millions of soccer-loving Nigerians by winning the AWCON hosted by Cameroon. They should all be paid all their entitlements and winning bonuses without further delay. The NFF officials are highly corrupt. Some top officials of the NFF came to Cameroon on a chartered flight just to watch the final game between the Super Falcons of Nigeria and the Lionesses of Cameroon. Yet they claimed there is no money to pay players who fought gallantly to win the Championship. The President should salvage the situation or forget his reelection bid in 2019.

    • charlieakpeumoh

      All those sycophants , who usually use this column to support the Buhari regime & his rogue- APC-govt. blindly and so foolishly at best, have now gone into temporary hibanation! Woe betide them and their “Fulani-Herdsmen-govt”! Their days are numbered!!!

  • Comfortkay

    I would love our government to educate Nigerian how they plan a budget? If there is a budget for sports and the Super Falcons are not in that budget then what kind of Kanguru government do we have. Even the so called Billionaires in Nigeria are afraid to come out and help this sport girls.
    It is wrong to have information Minister to say that they have no money for the girls they have enough money collected from the looters and they can just pay or the whole sporting body in Nigeria will have to resign with immediate effect.

  • Jessica

    It’s a shame that this is happening in a country where our dumb senators are buying bullet proof cars and living lavish lifestyle, these bastards are so annoying and they have no heart, this is the same thing they did to the super eagles and now it’s the falcons, pls keep protesting and stay in the hotel for as long as you want until your demands are met and make sure the cup is with you for as long as you are been neglected, that stupid man with red beret has always been an idiot from day one.

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  • Ezekiel Okeke

    Falcons are not victim of recession but victim of people who do not have
    capability to handle their affairs- mess Biafrans have associated with
    for about 60 years, but have come to an end with Republic Of Biafra now
    in existence. Is it the first time similar mess happened to football
    team in this territory called Nigeria?

    The person who is talking about Falcon been victim of recession have lost sense of shame- in such a highly productive society, economic recession happened, are they not a disgrace, should they have a mouth to take in all respect?