The Senate on Wednesday condemned the inability of the Nigeria Football Federation to pay the protesting Super Falcons their entitlements, asking the sports ministry and the Nigeria Football Federation to pay the players immediately.
The lawmakers lamented the trend of maltreatment of Nigerian athletes before, during and after international competitions.
The Falcons had won the African Women’s Cup of Nations for the eighth time in Cameroon on Saturday.
But they have yet to be paid their allowances and bonuses as the NFF said it had no money to pay them.
This forced the players to protest against their treatment by the NFF.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, Senator Obinna Ogba, while moving a motion by raising a point of order, decried the treatment meted out to the victorious team.
He condemned “the unfair treatment” on the girls, despite making the country proud at the competition.
Senator Ben Murray-Bruce criticised the Federal Government and sports administrators in the country.
He said, “We care about structures, we don’t care about people. It is a disgrace what is happening to the Super Falcons, boxers and other athletes. Governments in Nigeria do not care about human being, they only care about awarding contracts.”
Also decrying the condition of the footballers at the plenary were Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central); Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio; and Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North), who all called for urgent intervention to ease the burden on the players.
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, congratulated the Falcons, while asking the NFF and the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, “to do the needful so as to encourage a winning habit.”
FG blames biting economic situation
The Federal Government on Wednesday attributed its inability to meet the demands of the victorious Super Falcons to what it called “biting economic situation”.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, said this while answering questions from State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The players had seized the trophy they won at the African Women’s Cup of Nations in Cameroon on Saturday, saying they would not release it until they are paid their allowances and bonuses totalling N238.05m.
They had threatened that if President Muhammadu Buhari refused to address their grievances at the Federal Executive Council’s meeting on Wednesday, they would march through Abuja streets to press home their demand.
But Muhammed told reporters that the Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung, raised the issue at the council meeting.
He admitted that it had become a tradition for the government to reward sportsmen and women who emerged victorious in international events.
He however attributed the Federal Government’s inability to meet the Falcons’ demand to biting economic situation.
The minister however expressed the belief that the issue would be sorted out.
He said. “Over time, it has become tradition to reward victorious athletes or sports persons but I think this is caused by the biting economic situation.
“The Minister of Youths and Sports is handling the matter. It was reported under other matters today at the council.”
The players had claimed that the debt the Nigeria Football Federation owed each of the 23 players, which included allowances and match bonuses since the team started camping for the tournament, amounted to $25,000 (about N11.25m).
They said they would not only remain in their hotel in Abuja until NFF and the Federal Government meet their demands, but they would not also release the trophy until they receive alert of the payment.
They said they could no longer be deceived by the rhetoric by the federation to get back to them.
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