The Super Falcons made the nation proud once again by emerging champions at the recently concluded African Women Cup of Nations tournament. For coming tops, the Falcons are to get about $16,500 in tournament money. However, since they won the championship on the 3rd of December, they have been owed their cash prize including bonuses and allowances due to them from the qualifier stages.
To protest this, they have held a sit-in at their Abuja hotel since they arrived the country and refused not to hand over the trophy to force the NFF to fulfil their obligations to them. These actions obviously did not move the NFF to act hence they took their protest to the National Assembly today to get the attention of the President who presented the 2017 budget before a joint session of the house.
It is shameful that the Falcons who flew the Nigerian flag and emerged champions at AWCON have to fight for what is theirs by right. One only has to look at the reception given to the Cameroonian team, who clinched 2nd place, by their government to realize how despicable the national champions have been treated so far.
The excuse the Sport’s Minister gave was that the government was not expecting the Falcons to win so processes were not put in place to pay them their dues. Yes, you heard that right. This is a team that has won the AWCON for a record 10 times. They are the team with the highest wins. They are truly champions in all ramifications but their government did not envisage that they will win.
The Federal budget is N6.08 trillion but the government still finds it hard to pay the Super Falcons.
This is hogwash and the government knows it.
The president has disappointed on this point again. The buck ends with him and whether he likes or not, the actions of members of his government reflect on him. His Minister of Youth and Sports has been overwhelmingly incompetent. Since he was appointed to the post, he has consistently brought his office to new lows.
After the Super Eagles were stranded in Atlanta prior to their qualifier match in Brazil for Rio 2016, the minister said: “I don’t know about the trip to the US and if they are suffering that is the business of those who sponsored them, not my business”. At the same Olympics, the national team had no uniforms for the opening ceremony and had to make do with their training wear. Let us not forget that the Falcons had to come back home by bus while the sport officials travelled by air.
The minister has proven to be incapable of leadership and management, one would have expected the president to have relieved him of his post a while ago but the failure of the president to do so seems to show that the president is in the least concerned with the direction our sports is heading to.
The treatment the Falcons have received which was the same meted out to the Super Eagles at Rio 2016 is capable of preventing young Nigerians from sacrificing for their nation. The government, through its actions, is subtly telling Nigerians that patriotism is not worth it, that their sacrifices would not be duly appreciated and that they have to fight for what is theirs, always.
At this critical time for the nation, Nigeria needs more patriotic people, not less.