Over the past seasons, the issue of players' welfare has been among the discourse on how to improve the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL). Supersport.com's inquest into the salaries of players last season has brought about a discovery of clubs flouting Article 2.4(1) of the league rules under Schedule C.
Article 2.4(1) of the rules clearly states: "The monthly salary for a Premier League player is negotiable: but shall not be less than One Hundred Thousand Naira only (N100,000.00) per player."
Last season, the clubs that participated in the top flight complied to the minimum wage by 48 percent and most of them only on paper.
In the immediate past season, four clubs defaulted outright the minimum wage rule of N100,000 (around $625) per player. The clubs are Gombe United, Kwara United, Nasarawa United and champions, Kano Pillars.
At Gombe United, the highest salary earner, Alhaji Kwairanga, was on N63,000 (around $390) monthly last term while the average monthly pay at Nasarawa United stood at N50,000 (around $300). No player at the Solid Miners including last season's highest goalscorer, Victor Namo, earned above N80,000 (around $500).
However, relegated Kwara United had 18 players on their payroll as their highest earners monthly on N60,000 (around $375) each and at the same time, all their players were on a one-season contract.
Other clubs like ABS, Akwa United, Dolphins, El-Kanemi Warriors, Kaduna United, Sharks, Warri Wolves, Enyimba and Heartland only met the minimum wage rule by fractions of percentage.
Only one player, Abdulrahman Bashir, was paid N100,000 at ABS last season while others were on wages of N70,000, N60,000 and N50,000. Three-time champions, Dolphins, were only able to pay five players, Festus Austine, Ifeanyi Egwim, Ifeanyi Onuigbo, Frederick Okwara and David Tyavkase N100,000 each.
Six-time champions, Enyimba also defaulted as four of their players including Kingsley Sokari earned below the N100,000 mark. At El-Kanemi, only one player, Musa Musa, got N100,000 monthly.
Sharks, otherwise known as the Blue Angels, had seven players listed on N100,000 and above monthly income.
Nembe City's peculiar case
City's case can be said to be a club that agreed to pay the N100,000 minimum wage on paper without often keeping to their own bargain with the players as at when due.
At the last count, one of the club's influential players revealed to supersport.com that Nembe City was in default of five months salaries.
"We're still being owed five months salaries as well as signing-on fees and several match bonuses after last season. Till date we've got nothing yet," said the player, who preferred to talk off the record.
Clubs that met the minimum wage
However, out of 20 clubs in the NPFL last season only five can be said to have met the minimum wage of N100,000. The clubs are Bayelsa United, Sunshine Stars, Lobi Stars, Enugu Rangers and Wikki Tourists.
Sunshine Stars however led the pack with a huge monthly wage bill that often surpassed N20 million while Lobi Stars closed in on just around N11 million.
Surprisingly relegated Wikki Tourists had one of the highest monthly wage bills in the top flight last season that stood at N7.84 million with the trio of Aminu Umar, Emenike Onuoha and Ibrahim Mustapha being their top earners on N230,000 each per month.
Highest salary earner last term
That brings us to the player who earned the highest salary last season in the NPFL - Godfrey Oboabona. Before Oboabona left Sunshine Stars to join up with Turkish Super Lig outfit, Caykur Rizespor, he was on a monthly income of N650,000 (around $4,000).
At least 26 players were on a monthly pay of N500,000 and above each at Sunshine Stars, which made them the highest spenders in monthly wage. No wonder their monthly wage bill stood at around N20 million and above all season.
The least salary earner at Sunshine Stars got N250,000 last season.
Pathetic case of the champions
Unlike Sunshine Stars, it is quite stunning to discover that NPFL champions, Kano Pillars salary cap was less than N100,000 per player last season. The like of Super Eagles stars, Gambo Muhammad and Rabiu Ali as well as influential goalkeeper, Theophilus Afelokhai, are their highest earners but still got less than N100,000 each as month salaries.
Also, the total wage bill per month for the champions last season stood at around N2.6 million and N3 million.
Gombe United had the lowest salary structure in the top flight in the past season with a monthly salary total of just around N2 million though supersport.com established N1.92 million as payouts recorded. Little wonder the Desert Scorpions failed to attract some of the league's big names to their fold. An instance is Enyimba snapping up Bishop Onyeudo from under Gombe United's noses by offering him N160,000 (around $1,000) as against N55,000 (around $340) he earned monthly at the Scorpions.
In the wake of this development, the League Management Company (LMC) has resolved that it will push the club licensing system into light to put an end to the anomaly in players' welfare especially.
In its recent statement, The LMC made it clear on its Twitter account that the minimum wage will be "a prerequisite for participating in the premier league."
Monthly Salary Total for Clubs
Sunshine Stars - N23.6 million
Lobi Stars - N11 million
Wikki Tourists - N7.84 million
Enyimba - N7.1 million
Bayelsa United - N6 million
Nembe City - N5.53 million
Heartland - N4.75 million
Kaduna United - N4.25 million
Enugu Rangers - N4.22 million
Akwa United - N3.97 million
Sharks - N3.83 million
Dolphins - N3.35 million
El-Kanemi - N3.28 million
Warri Wolves - N3.17 million
Kano Pillars - N2.6 million
ABS - N2.4 million
Kwara United - N2.36 million
Nasarawa United - N1.99 million
Gombe United - N1.92 million