Protesting Footballers Barricade Taraba Govt House



Wole Ayodele in Jalingo

The entrance to the Taraba State Government House was yesterday barricaded by players of the state-owned FC Taraba and Taraba Queens over non-payment of 21 months salaries.

The blockade brought activities in the Government House to a halt as security operatives were forced to lock the gate thereby preventing vehicular movement in and out of the premises.

The players, numbering over 50, were dancing and singing solidarity songs as they beat drums and other musical instruments thereby drawing the attention of visitors to the Government House and other passersby.

As the crowd began to grow and the players becoming restive, security operatives were drafted in to disperse them and in the process, teargas canisters were fired but the players stood their ground and insisted on being paid before leaving.

Narrating their ordeal to journalists, Assistant Captain of FC Taraba, Uzih Michael, said the state government has continued to ignore them for too long and they have no choice other than to occupy the Government House to draw attention to their plight.

“We’re so sad over what the Taraba government is doing to us. We have not been paid for 21 months now. The state government is owing us 10 months in 2015 and in 2016, 11 months have gone now without any payment.

“We protested here last month and government promised to pay us at the end of the month but we didn’t receive anything”

He noted that the team was in the Nigeria Professional Football Premier League in 2014 but dropped to the lower tier due to hunger occasioned by the non-payment of salaries by the government.

Also speaking to newsmen, another player, Kabiru Ahmed, said they would not leave the Government House gate until government pay them their entitlements.
Berating the government, Ahmed said it was sad to note that the state government that could not pay them for 21 months would release millions of Naira for a peace concert stressing that it goes to show how insensitive the government is.

Meanwhile, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Hassan Mijinyawa has disclosed that Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku has directed the deputy governor, Haruna Manu, to ensure immediate release of three months salaries to the players.

Mijinyawa, who maintained that the governor was very sensitive to the plight of the players stressed that Ishaku is on top of the situation and would do everything possible to alleviate the sufferings of the players.

According to him: “The governor is very sensitive to the plight of the players and he has directed the immediate payment of three months salaries to the players through the office of the Deputy governor.

“I can assure you that the governor will leave no stone unturned in ensuring the problems being faced by the players are alleviated,” he stressed.

Senior Special Assistant to the governor, Sylvanus Giwa, however appealed to the players to vacate the Government House entrance, stressing that the three months salaries promised by government would be paid before Christmas.