The Governor of Akwa Ibom, crticised for wasteful spending of hundreds of millions of naira of state funds, has failed to pay footballers of the state football club for almost two years.
The players who, two seasons ago, ensured promotion from the National League to the Nigeria Professional Football League for Akwa United are still being owed over N80m.
One of the players, goalkeeper John Dosu, explained that the money is the 80 per cent balance of sign-on fees which has been hanging for over 16 months.
According to the player, the chairman of Akwa United, Isang Isong, has turned out not to be a man of his words as he has continually made empty promises on the payment of the said money since January 2012.
Also, in light of Mr. Akpabio's 'outrageous' wedding gifts to singer Tuface Idibia and his wife, Annie Macauley, the players are demanding that their monies be paid.
"Please, we are tired of Akwa United promising us they will pay. Since last year January, nothing has been done," the aggrieved player told Premium Times.
"The chairman said he is still waiting for Governor Godswill Akpabio to release money for him. Please, let the governor come to our aid. We are family men .We know he is a sports-loving Governor. He should look into our case. Save our soul, Governor Akpabio," Dosu pleaded.
When contacted, Mr. Isong admitted that club owes the players a percentage of their sign-off fees, adding that it was not news since it is not peculiar to Akwa United alone.
According to him, the state government has not released money for the payment.
"Yes, we owe them but are we the only team owing? At least we have paid some percentage, some clubs have not even paid one naira.
"I'm not saying it is good to owe players but as you know this is a government club. If government releases money, we pay. If not, there is nothing we can do even if it's for five years," Mr. Isang says.
He continues, "Sometimes the governors don’t see sign-on fees as their priority compared to building roads and hospitals. I think what you [the reporter] should be writing about is how the League can attract sponsorship and investors not about sign-on fees.
"Just recently Nollywod got N3billion lifeline from the government; let us promote the league so it can attract such investment," Mr. Isang remarks.
Already, the aggrieved Akwa United players are reportedly trying to talk members of the Super Eagles into boycotting a reception being planned for the national team by the Akwa Ibom State Governor.
Both Akwa Ibom and Cross River States government plan to take turns in hosting the Stephen Keshi-coached team and as with previous hosts of the reigning African Champions, a Naira rain is expected.
Apart from the lavish gifts to Tuface and his wife, Mr. Akpabio also promised to sponsor 29 people to the couple’s wedding in Dubai. He also recently acquired customized state of the art cars for himself and his aides. Activists and residents of the state have continually complained of Mr. Akpabio's extravagant spending while being unable to promptly pay the due salaries and allowances of the state’s workers, including the footballers.
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