Nigerian athletes suffer unfulfilled promises by govts., Dangote, Elumelu, others

Super Falcons

After a 30-year wait and with some already dead , the victorious Golden Eaglets team that conquered the world in the maiden edition of the Cadet World Cup in China got the rewards they were promised in 1985 by the then Head of State, Muhammad Buhari.

However, while they were ‘lucky’ to still get what was long due them, it is not the same for a host of other sports people who have turned to be victims of empty promises from federal and state governments as well as from corporate bodies and other individuals.

The euphoria of victory some say is quite infectious and in the spur of the moment, a whole lot of promises are made when celebrating remarkable achievements in sports and beyond.

While some of the promises are made as appreciation to feats already attained, others are made before action as a means of spurring the athletes on in their quest for victory.

Whichever time the promises are made, they are expected to be paid once the other party, the sports personalities, fulfil their part of the bargain.

Earlier in the month, an alarm was raised about some wealthy Nigerians who made promises to the country’s national team, the Super Eagles, since 2013 but are yet to honour them.

The Super Eagles ended a 19-year wait to win a third African Cup of Nations title in 2013 in South Africa.

A press statement from the former media officer of the Super Eagles, Ben Alaiya quoted a former skipper of the national team who does not want his name in print. He accused Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, who is prospecting to buy top English Premier League side, Arsenal FC, of defaulting on the $1million he promised the team after their triumph at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

The press statement from the former spokesperson also revealed that Chairman of Heirs PLC, Tony Elumelu, also owes the 2013 champions $1million he promised to former President Goodluck Jonathan.

PREMIUM TIMES made attempts to get the spokespersons for the two businessmen to clarify their stance, but that has been unsuccessful as repeated calls and text messages have simply been ignored.

It is definitely not the Super Eagles alone that have found themselves in the web of unfilled promises.

akwa-united-federation-cup-2015-winnersAkwa United in 2015 made history by the winning the Federation Cup for the first time in the state’s history.

For that performance, players and officials of the club coincidentally nicknamed ‘Promise Keepers’ were promised the sum of N2 million and houses in the state capital.

Over a year after that, those promises have not been fulfilled though there are hints that the state governor is making efforts and may get across the house documents to the beneficiaries soon.

“We have been told that we would get the house papers before the end of the month, but until we get it before we can believe it is real.

“We have had such assurances in time past and nothing happened,” one of the Akwa United players confided in PREMIUM TIMES.

Away from football, Akwa Ibom is also in the middle of another promise gone sour as athletics star, Alphonsus Aniekeme, is waiting on the promises she got after her heroic performance at the Youth Commonwealth Games held in Samoa in 2015.

At the event, Aniekeme raked in five medals for Nigeria, winning three gold, one silver and a bronze medal.

The then Akwa Ibom governor, Godswill Akpabio, said the state will offer Aniekeme scholarship and a N2 million largesse.

Godswill Akpabio
Godswill Akpabio

Presently studying Human Kinetics at the University of Port Harcourt, albeit on her own bills, Aniekeme told PREMIUM TIMES it has been a long wait for her to get what she was promised by her state.

“I have not gotten any (promise) yet,” she said. “I have been finding it difficult to get across to the governor, each time I get to the State House, they always tell me he is not around.”

!I hope I can see him because he was there when the former governor made the promises on behalf of the state” the Ikot Ekpene-born star said.

Although Aniekeme’s face is on billboards in Uyo as a reflection of the state’s sporting prowess, promises made to her are yet to be fulfilled.

Though their case is quite peculiar, players of Kaduna United still feel short-changed after their Federation Cup success in 2010 failed to attract the kind of reward it ordinarily deserved.

The Crocodile City team beat the mighty Enyimba to lift that year’s Federation Cup title; and while the then governor, late Patrick Yakowa, had the intention to reward the team, his untimely death put paid to that mission which was never acted on by his successors.

In recent times, tactically avoiding receptions that would necessitate promises seems to be the order of the day as many still wonder why the physically-challenged athletes that did the nation proud at the last Paralympic Games are yet to meet with the president.

The apathy suffered by the women football team is also raising eyebrows as the Super Falcons team that conquered Africa in 2014, and are about now heading for a title defence, never got a state reception.

Conversely, the red carpet was rolled out for the male team that did same just a year earlier; emerging top on the continent.

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