By Tsembelee Daniel Sorkaa (Esq)
…As So Called Benue State Sport Stakeholders expose themselves before His Excellency, Governor Alia
I was at the venue of the meeting at the Main Bowl, Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi where Governor Alia sought to know why Lobi Stars Football Club is where it is and what would make it move higher as the State only Pride in football.
I will be amazed if His Excellency, Rev. Fr. Dr. Hyacinth Alia knowing his capacity for fairness, justice and equity will listening to the voices coming from some bittered souls to remove Dominic Iorfa as the Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lobi Stars Football Club.
First to speak was the club’s captain, Daniel Atsaka. He told Governor Alia that the challenge of the club was lack of funds. It is this lack of funds that the club is presently owing its staff and players five (5) months salaries covering the months of; March, 2022, May, 2023, June, 2023, June, 2023 July, 2023 and August, 2024 with 24 match Bonuses. As a result, of the non payment of salaries, the club lost one of their best players in the person of Joseph Atule to Enyimba FC.
He further explained that, three (3) other players left the camp a night before the day of meeting with His Excellency. All these was because of difficulties in feeding and payment of family bills, ranging from non payment of wages.
The team Captain concluded by reminding His Excellency how soon the 2023/2024 NPFL season will kickoff with Lobi Stars yet to register its players. Captain Atsaka explained that, in the next three (3) days (from the day of meeting with the Governor), registration for players will be closed and it will be a catastrophe on the side of the club.
There was a group of people who were invited to be part of the meeting. They were the old people who were unable to handle the club and was at the verge of going to relegation until Iorfa was invited. Infact, one of them: Coach Godwin Uwua confirmed that, at a time the club was sinking, they could not find any other person who was as good as Iorfa to save it, so they came together and pleaded with the former Governor to bring back the Ex-international footballer to help salvage the decaying Lobi Stars.
Uwua further narrated how he recorded successes as a coach of the club when Iorfa was the Vice-Chairman. The only challenge according to him was Iorfa has stopped carrying him along. The question is, does that affect the club performance? Was Uwua a member of Board of the club? Was he an official of the club? The answer is no! So how does this affect the club? Here the answer is definitely about his own “interest” which is personal and certainly not the progress of the team.
One of the members of the old group, Sam Aindigh was a Coordinator of the club and was in charge of registering players for the league and i can boldly say it was terrible for the indigene players because according to many of them he made life miserable for them in the club during the reign of Aondofa Tama. It was his time that the club played 19 games and was having 19 points and on 19 position. This same man was sacked by the Former Governor from Lobi Stars FC and was ordered not to come close to Lobi Stars FC or have anything to do with the club again and it was announced on radio. I was also reliable informed that this same man has been impersonating the club by forging documents and clearing players receiving a lot of money from them using his signature on the club letter headed paper, thereby duping the NFF by selling Lobi Stars players without the knowledge of the leadership of the club even though he is no longer a staff of the club.
One thing His Excellency, Governor Alia should know is that, there has not been anything like Benue State Sports Stakeholders. These can best be described as a Group of Aggrieved Persons (GAP) who are out to blackmail and tarnish the image of Mr Iorfa for their personal gain. They are not fighting for the interest of the State.
It is rather amazing that, one of them, Moses Kpakor who when given an opportunity to talk was rather campaigning for himself. But come to think of it, is he managing the football team at the Benue State University very well? The Bible says, “he who is faithful in little things can be given even a bigger task.”
To some of us who have been following the activities of the club over the years, the biggest challenge of the club at the moment is non payment of salaries. Apart from non payment of salaries to staff and players, the fixing of Aper Aku Stadium to meet NPFL standard so that, Lobi Stars FC matches can be played in Makurdi. These two major issues are all on the part of the Benue State Government which His Excellency heads.
Recall that after saving Lobi Stars FC from relegation, Iorfa was able to drive the club to the best six (6) in the country. Lobi Stars FC was the only club from the entire 19 Northern States to qualify for the Super Six, after ending the season 2nd on the log table, just below Rivers United.
It is worthy to note that, none of the clubs who played away from home finished ahead of Lobi Stars, including Plateau United whom Lobi Stars borrowed their pitch as their home ground.
If Mr Iorfa helped the club to escape relegation in 2022, ended 2nd position in the Abridged season and qualify them for Super Six and also played up to semi finals in Super Eight all in 2023, then why the sudden rise of voices on the street? Can we truly say that Lobi Stars is broken? If yes, on who’s side? Lobi Stars Management or the Benue State Government?
Benue must be great under His Excellency, Governor Alia. The Pull Him Down Syndrome will no longer see the light of the day under his watch. Bitter souls should not compel the Reverend gentleman to make the same mistake Ortom made but later realized and corrected it by calling Iorfa back to the club to salvage its precarious situation in March, 2022. Lobi Stars will definitely not go down.