The Nigerian senior female national football team, otherwise known as the Super Falcons of Nigeria have refused to leave a hotel in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory many days after they were supposed to have checked out of the hotel.
This is because, according to some of the players who spoke to journalists on strict conditions of anonymity, they do not trust the Nigerian Football Federation officials and the Nigerian Sports Ministry to pay them their allowances and bonuses, should they leave the Agura Hotel without getting their complete payment.
For those who might want to argue that the girls should for the sake of patriotism sheathe their swords, I think there are no swords drawn and there cannot be a better way to show patriotism than to adorn the Green White Green jersey and play out your heart for your country, even though you have not being paid.
These girls may have listened to the football officials, if they had spoken to them like they are human beings who deserve to be understood.
Some utterances credited to the top sports administrators in the country do not help matters, as the girls are made to look like common beggars, even though they are only asking for their legitimate entitlements.
The most embarrassing of these utterances is the one credited to the beret wearing Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung who said that the government did not have any plans to pay these girls their winning allowances, because they did not expect them to win the tournament.
This is as disgraceful as it is indicting.
What the sports minister says in effect is that himself and other officials who are paid with tax payers money only sent these girls to Cameroun without giving them the necessary motivation to win the tournament.
To Dalung and his lieutenants in the sports ministry, it does not matter if these girls went to Cameroun to embarrass Nigeria.
Dalung’s statement is another way of saying that the image and pride of our nation do not matter to him and those charged with the duty of administering our football.
And I wonder what an individual with such careless mindset is doing in a public office in the same nation.
The neglect of these athletes who have brought home, Nigeria’s first senior soccer gold medal since the advent of this administration is not just the neglect of the less than forty Nigerian athletes involved in this patriotism but the neglect of nationalism.
The Nigerian Football Federation and its major sponsor, the ministry of sports are setting a very wrong and dangerous precedence.