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From Sani Zaria, in Jalingo

Taraba state government has been urged to settle the backlogs of eighteen months allowances for the players of both male and female football clubs to enable them take care of themselves and their families.

The call was made by the spokespersons of the clubs Mr. Abidoye Babatunde and Felicia Gambo during a peaceful protest to the Taraba State House of Assembly seeking for the intervention of the lawmakers.

They said they have protested on several occasions, by locking the entrance of the stadium and trekking down to the Government House Jalingo in the state capital, but that all the promises that were made by Governor Darius Ishaku have not yet been fulfilled.

They maintained that the essence of their first protest to the state House of Assembly was in consideration of the fact that they are lawmakers, with majority of them as youths and indigenes of the state. They explained that as lawmakers they were voted to “represent and protect our interest” as well as to make laws that would benefit everyone.

” We therefore here to compel our lawmakers to look into our plights, since we have exhausted all avenues through the state Ministry of Youth and Sports” in the bid to resolve the matter between the two clubs and the state government.

The players also expressed dismay over the “clear lack of humanity shown by the state government,” for abandoning them without feeding and a shelter for those engaged by the clubs from other states, who according to them, have been asked to park out from where they were given as accommodation by the government of Taraba.

‘’ As I’m talking to you now, we are really suffering since December 2017. Nobody among us, who are not from Taraba state has sent anything to our families talkless of visiting them; and even food to eat has become very difficult. For me as the Media Officer of FC Taraba I’m from Lagos State and also attached to NFFA, I’m am telling you the government in this state are liars. And I’m saying this because am sure the state Commissioner of Sports and the SA to the Governor on Youth and Sports are going to see this interview, because they kept lying to us by saying next week we will be paid and their next week has never come“ Babatunde said.

Meanwhile Felicia Gambo who spoke for the Female Club also described the non-chalant attitude of the state government over their plight as pathetic and appealed to the state Governor Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku to settle their allowances.

“Me I’m from Kano state and we as women are very disappointed by Taraba State Government because as I’m talking to you I have no food and I have a daughter who is there, for good one year I could not pay her School fees; the worst part of it is that since this man, Darius came he has never for once visited us in any matches we played. So it is better he pays us and I will leave and find another club for the better” Felicia said.

Briefing newsmen shortly after meeting with ten representatives of the two clubs, Chairman House Committee on Youth and Sports and member representing Jalingo One in the Taraba State House of Assembly Hon. Nura Dantsoho said the house, which is an organ that mediate between the Executive and the masses, would intervene to make sure they are paid what the government is owing them. ” For that reason, I have already directed my secretary to write an invitation letter to the Ministry of Youth and Sports for a meeting together with the players, slated to hold today at 10:30 am in the State Assembly.

“You see because of our zeal and commitment towards the development of sports in Taraba state, when the government brought their budget on sports, we at the House under my committee increased their budget in some areas just to enable them motivate our youths but we don’t know what is really happening, even though there was an agreement that the government would be paying them in phases depending on the money they have. We just do not know the problem and that is why the Speaker Rt. Hon. Abel Peter has pleaded with them to be more patient, to see how the issue will be addressed” Dantsoho said.

When contacted on telephone over the allegation that he was the one refusing to make the payments, Taraba state Commissioner of Youth and Sports Pastor Gambo Ndafo responded with a text message that read thus: “What power do I have to withhold money meant for footballers and you believed it? Very bad. I pray for God’s mercy.”

Also responding to an allegation made by the players against the Taraba State Director of Department of State Security (DSS) Shehu Saulawa that Governor Darius Ishaku gave the money to him to pay them, Saulawa also through a text message replied that “I am aware about their case, but I don’t understand what you mean by it’s with me(i.ethe money).”

Investigations by Politics Today revealed that the Governor has recently set up a committee to investigate and find a lasting solution in resolving the issue of frequent protests by the footballers that tend to threaten the security of the state capital.

It could be recalled that some time last year, during one of their protests they had a clash with the Nigeria Police personnel when they refused the then SSA Media to Governor Ishaku, Late Silvanus Giwa exit from the stadium on a Saturday morning.

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