A potentially explosive situation seems to have been diffused after athletes and officials of the Akwa Ibom State government reached an agreement to end the embarrassing standoff over athletes’ camping allowances at the 2018 National Sports Festival(NSF) taking place in Abuja.
The agreement came at a meeting held between athletes and the Special Adviser on Sports to the Akwa Ibom State government, Mr Paul Bassey at the Team Akwa Ibom NYSC Camp base in Kubwa at around 8 pm on Wednesday.
Busybuddiesng.com can reveal that Mr Bassey reached an accord with the athletes to pay them thirty thousand naira each (₦30,000) as their camping allowance for the duration of their stay at the Festival which is scheduled to come to an end on 16 December 2018. The allowance is expected to be paid to the athletes before the end of Thursday, 13 December 2018.
The speedy resolve shown by the government to placate the athletes was to stave off threats from the athletes who had promised to wreak havoc at their Kubwa base if their allowances were left unpaid at the end of Wednesday.
The athletes had refused to board buses designated to convey them to the National Stadium Abuja, venue of the 19th National Sports Festival on Wednesday morning after heated protests broke out over unpaid camping allowances.
The protests came about after a number of athletes received calls from spouses and dependents back home in Akwa Ibom demanding a share of the money reportedly doled out to them by the state government.
The nonplussed athletes who hadn’t received a penny since they arrived for the Festival and are wont to believe the worst of officials promptly came to the conclusion that their allowances had been diverted by corrupt officials.
Apparently, news had made the rounds in Akwa Ibom – wrongly as it turned out – that the state government had released a trove of funds to the athletes with wild figures ranging from one hundred and sixty thousand to eight million naira being quoted as allocated to each athlete. With such largesse on offer, relatives and friends were quick to make financial demands and even offer financial advice to the bemused athletes who then turned their ire on alarmed state officials.
While the state government hopes that Wednesday’s night agreement puts an end to the athletes’ agitations, busybuddiesng.com understands that not all athletes are satisfied with the sum on offer with some deriding the financial package as fit only for “youth games”.
One athlete who spoke to this correspondent says they feel betrayed by the government who had led them to believe that there would be substantial payments made for their camping allowances.
“They told us that they were going to pay us well and they even gave us ten thousand
Another wondered why all those who had been agitating earlier in the day had all meekly accepted the government’s proposal even though it fell so far short of what they wanted.
“I no know weda dem use Juju on them,” the athlete told busybuddiesng.com. “I just tire, people wey been say dem go do riot make them release beta money now dem de clap hand again,” he wondered.