By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Selected coaches and staff of Lobi Stars Football Club of Makurdi have sent a Save-Our-Soul message to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue over alleged unpaid salaries and allowances by the management of the club.
The affected personnel who noted that the Governor had regularly without fail released funds monthly for the club’s financial obligations wondered why they were not being paid their remuneration by the management.
Narrating his ordeal to newsmen in Makurdi, Coach John Onuh also known as Coach Abacha who until March was the coach of the club’s feeder team lamented that most of them had not been paid since March.
He said, “as I am talking to you I am a staff of Lobi Stars and I have my appointment letter, I was employed by the board. I have not received my salary since the month of March when Mr. Dominic Iorfa took over as Vice Chairman of the Club.
“Though I will not say every member of staff have not collected salaries but I know that there are coaches, staff and footballers that have not collected salaries just like me. And I am very sure that no coach in Lobi Stars has been paid up to date.
“We all know that the Governor of Benue state has been releasing money regularly on a monthly basis to the club for its obligation so we are surprised that our salaries are not being paid.
“Benue state government is not owing Lobi Stars because since the inception of the Governor Samuel Ortom’s Government Lobi Stars have never been owed one month salary. This is the first time this kind of a thing is happening in the Club.
“We are appealing to the Governor who is renowned for his stance against injustice to intervene in the matter so that my colleagues and I who are in the same situation get our salaries because we have families, we have responsibilities, our children are not going to school, we also have other bills to pay. Some of us have been given quit notices because we could not pay our rents, light and water bills.
“If I may talk about myself, I have six children, out of these six children, three of them are in Secondary School and I can tell you that they did not write the last examination because they were chased away from school.”
In his account, Coach Tony Shav who stated he had been the Youth Director of Lobi Stars said “it is very unfortunate that we found ourselves in a situation like this in Benue. We have been working and it got to a point when our work was halted in March 2022 by Dominic Iorfa the Vice Chairman and we have not been receiving our salaries.
“Our families are suffering because our children are not going to school since we cannot pay their school fees and cannot also provide the needs of our families since our salaries have been withheld for five months now.
“As we speak I am owing two hotels in Makurdi town over N260,000 which I incurred while doing my job. I have been borrowing money on interest to take care of my family.
“It is unfortunate that the youth programme of the Club which I believe is the avenue for the Club to make money for the state has been halted after the so much work we put into scouting for players.
“There is so much that is wrong in Lobi Stars today because things are not being done rightly. None of all the people that worked with me has been paid for five months. People are living from hand to mount, borrowing to survive, It’s terrible that is why we are appealing to the Governor to intervene in the matter.”
When contacted, the Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Club, Mr. Dominic Iorfa claimed that the affected personnel were not his staff.
He said, “they are not my staff because when I took over in March I issued a statement that anybody that is not in the first team has to go. And I only picked about four or five coaches. So I do not know the said staff who are talking all over the place that I am owing them salaries of five or six months. I don’t know them.
“Before I came all the coaches were sacked with the former head coach, Dombraye. The only coaches I met were Sam Addingi and Agagbe, everybody left.
“I brought a new coach and took the people I want to work with. And when I came I saw that we had coaches for the youth teams who were not doing anything. I told myself how can you have more than 40 coaches who are not doing anything and the money was not enough.
“And seeing the situation we were in. I told them that I have the persons that I want to work with. I brought out about five to six persons out of the about 40 coaches that were there, that is all.
“The feeder teams that Coach Abacha was coaching were dissolved. Tony Shav was their Director they had nothing to keep the team and they had no players. The feeder team coaches were dissolved. They are not my staff I have the staff I work with.”