15th June, 2011
A cold war is currently raging between officials of Nigeria Scrabble Federation, NSF, and its top players.
The crisis was caused by the monetary reward from President Goodluck Jonathan to the players for winning medals for the country at the Africa Scrabble Championship held in Ghana.
Jonathan had given the sum of N750,000 for gold medal winner, N500,000 (silver) and N300,000 for every bronze won.
P.M.Sports can reveal that the money, given to the players is tearing the scrabble federation apart as officials were alleged to have demanded for 30 per cent of the largesse from each of the nine players. The players have, however, refused to part with the money, a situation that led the federation to bar them from taking part in the recently concluded Shell/Port Harcourt Opens tourney and the World Scrabble Championship to be held in Warsaw, Poland.
As a result of the action of the federation, top ranked players like the current Africa champion, Wellington Jighere, who got a total sum of N1.5million, having won individual and team gold medal at the tourney, former Africa champion, Dennis Kekereghor, Eta Eyo and Seidu Ayorinde were absent at the just concluded Port Harcourt Open trials.
Secretary General of the federation, James Eakyns, did not hide his displeasure over the action of the players, whom he claimed refused to part with 30 per cent of Jonathanâ€™s gift. He told P.M.Sports in his office at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, that the players were asked to pay 30 per cent the largesse based on a written agreement made with them before they went to Ghana for the Africa Scrabble Championship.
â€œWe made an explicit agreement with the players before their departure for the Ghana tourney, that they would remit 30 per cent of any amount they got from the government or any other body as a result of their exploits at the championship,â€ he said.
Eakyns also defended the federation, saying that the NSF did not get any fund to prosecute Nigeriaâ€™s participation at the Africa championship. â€œWe had to source for money ourselves,â€ the scribe said.
Meanwhile, one of the players, who craved anonymity, revealed that he and his colleagues were planning to release a press statement very soon, to state their own side of the story.
As the cold war rages, there are strong indications that Nigeria may not be well represented at the Warsaw championship, as the federation prevented top stars from taking part in the trials for the competition. The first of the trials was the just concluded Port Harcourt Open, while the second is coming up in Ibadan between 2-3 July.