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Taraba: Home Of Football Slavery In Nigeria By Niyi Busari
Taraba State under the leadership of Governor Darius Dickson Ishiaku has surprisingly emerged as the new slave camp of Nigeria football. Since the emergence of the current leadership, the governor has demonstrated his total hatred for sports and especially the round lather game, and has shown it by appointing people, the commissioner for sports and the Special Adviser on sports who know next to nothing on how to run sports.
. Taraba players protesting their unpaid wages
The SA first agenda on appointment was how to combine his job as S.A to the governor with that of the chairmanship of the club and has gone about it by stylishly sacking the management under the flimsy excuse of none performance.The current leadership in the sporting sector in the state have totally grounded the once celebrated football clubs.
Paying players their monthly salary is now like the situation of the camel going through the eyes of a needle. Players, most of them family men and women and bread winners of their families play a whole season without having the pleasure of receiving their monthly salaries, and their allowances are even very difficult to come by.
At the end, these players are forced to take to the street to demand for their entitlement and in the process they are brutalized like animals by the police men under the instruction of the governor.
And when the brutalization generates public outcry and as a way to save his face, the governor will order the payment of two months from the so many months of their salaries with the promise to stagger the remaining payments.
That has been his trick of doing away with the players as he never fulfills the promise of paying the remaining months salary. He did it with the former premier league players who till now never got a dime after the deceptive two month salary he gave to them. The same apply to the current set of players. Officials are the worst hit.
Most time when the state government is arm twisted into paying those few months of salaries, officials are totally exempted, citing one form of excuse or the other. Sometimes committees were set up to ascertain the status and real officials of the club but at the end nothing serious comes out of the report. And the officials remain unpaid.
The condition of players in Taraba is totally unpalatable, pathetic and unthinkable. These players, both those of FC Taraba and Taraba Queens have been turned into beggars in the street of Jalingo. The ladies are even the worst hit as most of them have been turned into prostitutes as a way of trying to survive.
Recently the female players were ejected from their camp and they had to move their things to the commissioner’s office since they had even refused to renew the rent of their camp despite not paying them their salaries.
The surprising thing to the whole ugly scenario is how they manage to get registered for each season despite all the atrocities and the fragrant flaunting of the rules of the league bodies. These league bodies, the Nigeria Premier League and the Nigeria National League have explicitly in their rules that clubs who are owing their players will not be registered for the season.
But, even with the noise generated by the then premier league players with the mother of all protest carried out in Jalingo where they slept outside the government house under the harsh weather for two weeks, a situation that led to the League management company; LMC even paying them one month salaries, FC Taraba was still allowed to register the following season despite not fulfilling the promise to them, backed with the state government covering note to settle the remaining of the salaries of the players.
Ahead of this season’s league, the Nigeria National League, NNL has written to the state government to inform them of their stand not to register them for the next season if the players and OFICIALS are not paid. We are waiting to see if NNL would be able to stand on those words as the body language of the state does not show that they are ready to pay. The players are even currently embarking on another round of demonstration to demand for their salaries.
It is so pathetic to see that the state which was once reputed to be the heaven of football activities under the former leaderships of the state, especially under the regime of the late former governor, Suntia Danbaba where football thrived so much to the extent that the state which never dreamt of playing at the top flight level qualified to the Nigeria premier League and played there for two seasons has now become a slave camp of footballer.