Nigeria has a habit of treating its heroes shabbily and with disdain.
This trend has been a norm over the years, from one administration to another, and it’s apparent that government hardly ever takes any action until they are pushed to the wall – either by public outcry or protests.
The case of Nigeria’s triumphant, victorious and all-conquering Super Falcons is one that shows how callous, heartless and insensitive the Nigerian state is.
This is a country where lawmakers, who do next to nothing earn fat salaries and allowances, while those who bring fame and honour to the nation have to plead, cry, and beg for their entitlements.
One would have thought that with the congratulatory messages the team received from top government officials (President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, and others) during and after winning the African Women Championship (AWCON) for a record eighth time, they would return to welcoming hands.
Isn’t it a shame that just after winning the trophy, there were rumours that the team would come back to the country from Cameroon by road? By road?!
Runners up Cameroon were received and rewarded President Paul Biya, while the team that won are yet to be paid their allowances.
Here is a timeline of events of the situation with the Super Falcons.
November 16: The Falcons arrived Douala Airport Cameroon to participate in the 10th edition of the African Women Championship.
November 20: In its first game of the tournament the team faced Mali, who they defeated with consummate ease in a 6-0 victory.
November 23: Up next for the Falcons, was West African rivals Ghana. The team came out with a 1-1 draw in a keenly contested game.
November 26: In their final group game, the Falcons trashed Kenya 4-0 to reach the semi-final stage as group leaders.
November 29: In the semi-final, the Falcons secured a hard fought 1-0 victory over South Africa’s Bayana Bayana, the team that stopped them from making it to Rio 2016 Olympics.
December 3: The final game was against hosts Cameroon, who had the full support of the crowd at the stadium. The Falcons held their nerves as they ensured the pressure did not get to them, emerging victorious by a lone goal in the dying minutes of the game, to win the title for the eighth time.
December 4: The team returned to Nigeria in high spirits believing they would receive their allowances, so they could proceed to their various club sides.
December 6: Barely two days after arriving the country, they were hit with a sucker punch as Mohammed Sanusi, NFF General Secretary announced that the Federation did not have funds to pay them.
December 6: The players seized the trophy, saying they would not hand it over to the NFF until they were paid.
December 7: Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, while speaking after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting blamed the non-payment of the players’ allowance on the economic recession.
December 8: Red-beret wearing Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung while trying to explain why the team had not been paid, said no one expected the Falcons to win.
December 12: The ladies took their fate into their own hands as they stormed the complex of the National Assembly and the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in protest carrying placards.
At Aso Rock, Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari promised the players that the issue would be resolved in 48 hours.
We hope the FG will bring an end to this
disgraceful behaviour by fulfilling its obligation within the next two days, as it most importantly ensures that all those involved in this shameful act in the Sports Ministry and the NFF are be brought to book sacked.
Dolapo is a writer and journalist who works with YNaija. He has interests in Christianity, politics and sports.