By G9ija

The Niger State Government on Tuesday began discussing with the management and players of Niger Tornadoes Football Club of Minna in order to avert a strike over unpaid remunerations.

Muhammadu Lafiya, State Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, revealed this to the News Agency of Nigeria.

Lafiya, who spoke in Minna, the state capital, said he had held separate meetings with the club’s management and players.

He said: “I am just coming out now from two separate meetings.

“One was with the management of Niger Tornadoes, involving the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, four Directors, Vice-Chairman of Niger Tornadoes and the Technical Adviser, while the other meeting was with some of the players.”

Lafiya, who did not disclose the amount of money being owed the players, said the money was for players’ clearance fees and some allowances.

He blamed the inability of the state government to settle the arrears of money owed the players on current economic downturn.

“The government has started discussions with the players and other stakeholders on why they should not embark on the strike and give government a chance to resolve the issue,” the commissioner said.

He said the present situation gives no room for promises but finding practical solution to lingering issues.

Lafiya said: “It is my job as the Commissioner for Sports to get things done, and because the club belongs to the state.

“Therefore what I have done with my Permanent Secretary, as well as some ministry Directors, is working to keep the club afloat.

“I can assure that over the next couple of days, we will do everything possible to ensure that the planned industrial action does not take place.”

The Commissioner expressed optimism that the players would play their next match, which is a Match Day 36 fixture with the MFM FC, at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos on Sunday.

“We will make sure that the players of Niger Tornadoes participate in their next match,” he said.

NAN has however gathered from some of the players on condition of anonymity that they were being owed two months’ half salaries, match bonuses, sign-on and clearance fees.

Niger Tornadoes are presently placed 17th on the 2021/2022 Nigeria Professional Football League table with 43 points from 35 matches.