Buhari’s cash: Short-changed basketballers still waiting
The U16 female national basketballers who won the African cup last year and were promised N400,000 by President Muhammadu Buhari but were short-changed are yet to be fully paid nearly two months after other athletes were paid.
The players received alerts for the payment on Tuesday, March 23 but were utterly shocked as only N300,000 was credited to their accounts instead of the amount the President announced publicly.
One of the affected players, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity for fear of being punished, said they were not told anything concerning the difference.
She said, “Yes, I got an alert yesterday for the payment but it was for only N300,000 that was paid into my account. I have asked my mates and it’s the same amount they got.”
On Monday, April 4, our correspondent got a fresh call from one of those affected to complain about the endless wait and the silence coming from the Ministry of Youth and Sports officials. The PUNCH checks confirmed that the players were yet to paid the balance of N100,000 despite the assurances given by the sports ministry to The PUNCH that the issue would be thrashed out.
She said, “Please help us; we are counting on your newspaper (The PUNCH) to help us in this struggle. It is looking like impossible for us now even though our federation president has told us that he would do everything possible to ensure that the ministry officials pay us.”
A coach with the basketball team said he was hopeful that the matter would be sorted out given the assurances they had received from the basketball federation. The players assessment, pay advice and the payment itself, we learnt, was carried out by the sports ministry officials without any input from the federations.
Our correspondent learnt that it was not only the basketballers who were complaining, as there were other who were said to be beneficiaries but were yet to be paid too.
In January 2016, when Buhari hosted the sportsmen, the names and pictures of Onye Lauritta, who won gold medal in F40 shot put at the 2015 IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Qatar and those of her coach, Anato Patrick, and the team secretary, Mrs. Olabisi Aziz, were included in the event’s brochure, but no reward was announced for them at the event. But Aziz, who later spoke with The PUNCH, said the situation had been explained to them prior to the final ceremony but they had been computed into the reward system and would be paid like the others.
In January she had said, “The President’s speech and many other things had been concluded before we returned with the gold medal. Every detail had been explained to us and it was therefore merged with those of the powerlifters. So it isn’t that we were forgotten; no we are still a part of the reception and the rewarded athletes.”
We understand that powerlifters were paid last week but Onye and the officials were not paid.