Kwara Special Athletes on Wednesday blocked the entrance of the state Stadium Complex protesting their over 15 months N8, 000 stipends which has remained unpaid.
The athletes who carried placards with inscriptions like “Stop cheating us pay us our 15 months stipends” “Pharmacist Ayo Kale (Commissioner), you know nothing on Sports development, go back to chemist” “Police you may shoot us but our blood will fight such a police or security person” among others. The spokesman for the athletes, Oyadirin Felix, said they are Kwara ambassadors
who have been representing the state for the past 20 years without employment.
He said the state government also stopped the N8000 stipend going to some of the athletes under the Kwara Bridge Empowerment Scheme (KWABES) for the past 15 months. Felix explained that they had met with the state Chief of Staff, the Commissioner and the Director of Sports without any positive results to resolve the issue amicably.
“The Commissioner is our problem because since he assumed office, we had made several attempts to dialogue and chat way forward but has always turned our request down.
“To our surprise, they paid people on Tuesday without paying any of us. They are playing with our intelligence, we also have children and family to take care of too. “We want to be responsible to our family, we want to do Salah too. Other staff have been paid leaving us out, that was why we blocked the stadium entrance today, so outsiders will know what we are going through” Felix said.
He said when they met with Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, he promised to pay their remaining 50% allowances for National Sports Festival in 2012 (Eko 2012) a promise the governor is yet to fulfill. Felix also that the governor promised to employ some of them into the mainstream but no one has been employed since then till date.
“From 2006 we had won 90% of medals by the state. The only the state won in 2012 was by a special athlete in table tennis. We love our state and we want to continue to represent it even when other states are paying out colleagues N60, 000 to N100,000 monthly.
“The Commissioner’s claim that he is not aware of our remaining Eko 2012 50% shows he is not capable to handle the office” Felix added. He said only 6 of them out of more than 30 of them are being paid the N8000 stipends.
While reacting, the Kwara State Government says it does not owe any special athletes 15 months salaries as claimed by protesters on Wednesday in Ilorin.
According to the State’s Director of Sports, Mallam Tunde Kazeem, civil servants working with the Sports Council received their salaries on Tuesday, September 6.
The Director said that the Council only placed some athletes on a monthly stipend because they represent the State and they do not have jobs.
According to him, the council also pays some athletes stipends after its workers are explaining that the athletes on the stipends list were impatient hence the reason for their protest on Wednesday.
On the N5m promised the athletes by the State government for their participation in the Eko 2012 games, Kazeem said that N2.5m has been released by the government.
He, however, clarified that all their allowances and bonuses for the games in Lagos were paid to the athletes immediately after the games, stressing that the N5m is just a cash gift promised by the government.