Nigeria Women’s Professional League side, Heartland Queens, blocked Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha’s convoy from entering the Government House in Owerri on Monday in protest against their unpaid salaries.
The placard-carrying protesters, who claimed that the state government, who owns the outfit, had not paid them for seven months, chanted anti-government slogans. The players also said they had not been paid their match allowances and win bonuses for months.
The governor, who drove himself to the Government House, was forced to alight from his car to address the footballers clutching placards, which read, “We are the breadwinners of our families; We are suffering, Government of Imo State, pay us our seven months’ salaries; and Our dear governor, please listen to your children.”
After listening to the complaints of the players, Okorocha, who assured them that their demands would be met, assigned one of his aides, Edna Njoku, to discuss with the protesters and give him the feedback.
The governor then drove into the Government House.
The captain of the Owerri side, Best Osuji, told our correspondent at the scene that they were not also happy with their the team manager, Charity Enwerem, because she allegedly refused to draw the state government’s attention to their plight.
The midfielder stated that since they helped the team qualify for the elite league, they had been abandoned by the club’s management and the state government.
Osuji said “Since we won the amateur league playoffs and qualified for the Nigerian the top flight, the state government has abandoned us. We don’t have a camp, and they have kept us in the stadium without any care.
“We go to matches late and we play on empty stomachs, yet they want us to produce good results.”
Heartland Queens are scheduled to play FC Robo in Lagos on Wednesday but Osuji expressed her doubt whether they would make the trip due to a lack of money.
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