Staff members of the Ondo State Ministry of Sports working at the state’s sports council, who envisaged resuming today (Monday) forthe day’s business, had their plan truncated due to the shutting of the complex gate.
This is no thanks to the protest embarked upon by athletes in the state, who accused the state government of allegedly owing them 16 months allowances.
The athletes, who prevented workers from gaining access into the complex as well as their colleagues who had arrived as early as 6am for trainings, disclosed that aside the non payment of their allowances, they are being paid ridiculous stipend, which according them it is as low as N3,000 monthly per athlete.
Armed with placards, the athletes maintained that “All We Are Saying Pay Our Six Months Stipend, Enough of Suffering”; No More Scoping We Need Our 16 Months Allowances, Enough Is Enough”; ” No Alert No Opening of Gate.”
A weight lifter, Bankole Michael, who spoke with DAILY POST, lamented that Ondo athletes are languishing in penury due to the insensitivity of the state government to the welfare of athletes.
He maintained that they were promised to be paid during the just concluded National Sports Festival held in Abuja but all to no avail.
“It’s quite unfortunate what we are going through in our state as athletes.
“During the festival at Abuja, we went through hell, we agitated before the meagre stipend of N2,000 was paid to us out of the N75 million naira released for the festival.
“After the crisis in Abuja where we (athletes) were subjected to untold hardship, the officials promised that all the allowances would be paid before the yuletide, but none of that came to fruition.
“You won’t believe that all the officials distributed bags of rice and groundnut oil amongst themselves during the yuletide and nothing was given to any athlete, not even a cup of rice.
“What they don’t realize is that if there are no athletes, there won’t be nothing like the Ondo State Sport Council.”
Also, an athlete in the para-lifting category, Kazeem Aminu decried the attitude of the government towards athletes which he said has continued to demoralized them.
“Most of us are graduates and we are being made to go through all this hardship by our government.
“We have families, dependants. We pay rents. But we have not been able to live up to our responsibilities due to the 16 months allowances that are being held by government.”
Reacting to the allegations raised by the athletes, the state’s Commission for Sports and Youth Development, Saka Yusuf-Ogunleye said the state government is on top of the situation.
According to him, eight-month allowances have been approved for the payments of the athletes allowances.
He added that the other eight months was owed by the past administration which he said the Akeredolu’s government has not been notified by the officials of sports council.
The commissioner, who promised to resolve the issue, lauded the athletes for their performance at the National Sports Festival in Abuja.