The Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalong, says the nation’s football governing body. the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, needs an urgent `surgical operation’ to restore sanity into the game of football.
Mr. Dalong stated this while reacting to the sit-in protest embarked upon by the victorious Super Falcons over non-payment of their outstanding allowances and bonuses by the NFF.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Falcons decided to hold on to their Africa trophy until they are paid their entitlements.
Non-payment of Nigeria’s footballers and coaches has been a recurring theme in the past years for both the male and female football teams.
Mr. Dalong, who spoke to State House correspondents, frowned at the inability of the NFF to resettle the Super Falcons’ allowances and bonuses as well as the outstanding salaries of their coaches.
“And after the return, it was not managed properly, there are issues of pending salaries of the coaches. The coaches have not been paid for a long time. The coaches too have this grievances alongside.
“I think it is a complex situation but the entire governance of football deserves an urgent surgery. If that surgery is not done we will always live with the embarrassment.
“I am talking about the governance of football administration in Nigeria. Government has to do the surgery because they have been at the receiving end of the embarrassment.
“We must be prepared to do this to save the future of football in Nigeria,” he said.
He described as unfortunate that the situation where the Super Falcons, having consistently won the trophy eight times, would be celebrating their victory “with bitter feelings’’.
He however said, “We are working round the clock to ensure that what belongs to them legitimately is given to them. This has to do with government process.
“One thing I always make clear is that the process of request for funds for sporting projects must come earlier to meet the objectives.
“Don’t forget that nobody even knew the team will emerge victorious. But, we were confident they will emerge victorious.
“It is already established in sports tradition, when you win this is what you are entitled to.’’
The minister, who met with the aggrieved senior female footballers, at Agura Hotel, Abuja, on Thursday, said efforts had been intensified to pay them all their allowances and bonuses.
The Super Falcons, who are the current African champion, won the just concluded African Women’s Cup of Nations after beating hosts Cameroon by 1-0 in the final of the competition.
Mr. Dalong, who also spoke on President Muhammadu Buhari’s order to investigate the death of a female National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) member in Kano, said the investigation would “reveal what actually transpired and the circumstances that led to her death.”