Some of the players said they only got $5,000 as bonus.
The claim by the sports minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, that he sourced extra $5,000 for each of the Super Eagles’ players to ensure their participation at the Confederations Cup has been faulted by some of the players and condemned by an official of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF.
The Super Eagles had refused to travel to Brazil for the Confederations Cup after the NFF reduced their match bonus from $10, 000 to $5, 000 for a win and from $5, 000 to $2, 500 for a draw.
“The stalemate was broken by the intervention of the Honorable Minister who got additional funds to make up for the shortfall proposed by the NFF,” Mr. Abdullahi’s spokesperson, Julius Ogunro, had said in a statement to journalists.
The claim has now been faulted by at least two players of the Super Eagles who were at the Confederations Cup. The players sought anonymity, saying they would not want to engage in war of words with sports officials for fear of victimisation.
“I don’t want know what you are talking about please, I didn’t receive any $10,000 from anyone,” one of the players said.
Another player who expressed anger at the claim said, “It’s all a lie, we were not paid any $10,000 and I don’t know where this story is coming from please.”
When PREMIUM TIMES sought confirmation from Mr. Abdullahi if the players were actually paid the $10,000 winning bonus, he answered in the affirmative.
“Yes, we gave them an additional fund, they all collected $10,000 but if they said they didn’t collect the amount I don’t know about that,” Mr. Ogunro responded to our telephone enquiry.
He would, however, not disclose the source of the extra funds the minister used to appease the players, who had refused to travel to Brazil from Namibia, where they played a World Cup Qualifier.
“We only sourced for the additional fund, the information that I have is that the funds was sourced for and I can’t tell you if it was taken from the ministry’s budget or not all I know is that it was sourced for,” the spokesman said.
At $5,000 for each of the 23 players, Mr. Abdullahi must have sourced at least $115,000 (N18.4 million) to pay the players; money that is not in the NFF’s budget as the federation has insisted it does not have the capability to pay such amount as bonus.
Mr. Abdullahi’s intervention, however, ensured that the players eventually travelled to Brazil (two days to their first match against Tahiti at the Confederations Cup, and that Nigeria was not embarrassed.
In other to resolve the bonus row and prevent future occurrence, Mr. Abdullahi has set up and inaugurated a committee to investigate the crisis. The committee is headed by a former presidential aide, Segun Adeniyi, and is to submit its report within two weeks from Thursday when it was inaugurated.
The setting up of the committee has, however, been faulted by a top official of the NFF, who described it as “interference.”
‘The Minister doesn’t have the right to set up a committee to investigate the case that has to do with the NFA especially the Super Eagles, I wonder why he has to do that, that’s total interference, very wrong,” the official, who sought anonymity, told PREMIUM TIMES.
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