The protest by the Super Falcons against the Nigeria Football Federation’s non-payment of their bonuses and allowances for winning the 2016 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations has entered its seventh day on Saturday.
The eight-time African champions began their protest after they arrived the country on Sunday from Cameroon after winning the African championship for a record eight times, which extended their run as the most successful team on the continent. They have refused to leave the Agura Hotel, Abuja, where they were lodged since returning from the competition.
The NFF reportedly owes each player up to $25,000 but the federation said it has yet to raise the funds to settle the debt. The money includes allowances and match bonuses from the qualifier for the 2016 AWCON against Senegal to the 1-0 win over Cameroon in the final on December 3.
The federation is also reported to owe the players for a 2016 Olympic qualifier and the 2015 All-Africa Games, where the team finished fourth.
NFF General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, told the team earlier in the week that the federation would pay them up when it receives the money from the Federal Government but the players refused to budge.
Also a plea during a visit by the sports minister Solomon Dalung and some other officials of the sports ministry on Thursday fell on deaf ears as the team continued the protest.
And as of Friday when our correspondent checked on the team, it was learnt that the players remained on their resolve to continue the protest till their entitlements were paid.
Some members of the team, who pleaded anonymity, said the players are disappointed by the reaction and threats coming from various quarters over the protest.
“We have remained stronger in our resolve to continue this protest no matter what anyone says. What we demand is our right because we worked hard for it,” one of the players said.
“We have heard of various threats that some of us will not play again and it won’t stop us from fighting for what is rightfully ours. All we want is our money,” another player said.
“Today (Friday), they didn’t give us our money; they only made promises but we don’t trust them because several of such promises have been made with no result.”
Also, assistant captain of the team, Osinachi Ohale, told AFP that the players were deeply hurt when NFF president, Amaju Pinnick, threatened to report them to their overseas clubs over the issue.
“He said so many things that angered us, including that he will report us to our clubs if we are bent on disgracing Nigeria. This was not what he was telling us when he addressed us in Abuja before we left for Cameroon (for the women’s championship),” Ohale was quoted as saying by AFP.
Meanwhile, as the protest drags on in Nigeria, Cameroon president, Paul Biya, on Thursday hosted the Indomitable Lionesses at the Unity Palace.
The Lionesses finished as runners-up of the 2016 AWCON after losing 1-0 to Nigeria.
In a video posted online by one of the players, Njoya Ajara, Biya praised the ladies for putting up a good show at the tournament.
“Cameroonians are proud of you for courageously defending the colours of the nation throughout the tournament,” he said.