NBBF: FIBA hammer dangles

By Ikenna Okonkwo on 10/11/2017

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Aside football which has become like everyone’s delight in Nigeria, basketball (arguably) has over time taken the front seat in the mind of sports lovers in recent times. In that order, depending on the index you could lay your hand on; Athletics, Table Tennis, Wrestling, Tennis, Taekwondo, Boxing, Weightlifting among others then follow.

Football and basketball mostly enjoy media hype culminating to how popular they are. In a very unusual way, crises occasioned by mounting interest at one time or the other by those saddled with the responsibility of administrating these sports have in no way advanced their course as expected nationally. Athletics is another sport encumbered by People laced with varying individualistic concerns. In subsequent editions, we will delve into issues impeding Nigerian athletics.

Talking about our focus today, Basketball usually referred to as a dunking and slamming game mainly captured the attention of many Nigerians and indeed the entire world after spirited performance by D’ Tigers, Nigeria’s senior Men Basketball team against all odds qualified and featured during 2012 London Olympics. That was actually the first time such feat was recorded. They also set a scoring proof being the first African team to do so ahead of the then continental forces; Angola, Senegal, Tunisia and Cameroon at any Olympic game.

As if that was just the beginning of better times to come, D’ Tigers, a squad which have now earned much respect in Africa and beyond, went further to open a new historic book three years after they beat territorial powerhouse, Angola in the final of penultimate Africa basketball championship for the very first time ever in 2015. Since then, these Men have not removed their throttle from leading other Nations as long as the game of basketball is concerned in the continent. Picking another Olympic ticket and being one of the teams at 2016 Olympic game was an additional accomplishment.

Their Women counterpart, D’ Tigresses that won the latest edition of similar tournament about three months ago, have been powering too. Arising from these exploits, Nigerian basketball began to attract sponsors from all frontiers. Their sponsorship interest which was translated to action at different times by the board of Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) resurrected domestic leagues for robust participation for both Men and Women folks at various levels. 

Crisis rocking NBBF; how the table turned

However, those keenly following and savouring the dawn of a new horizon under Alhaji Tijani Umar leadership suddenly started witnessing a soar phase towards the end of 2016 when hostilities culminating into Sports federation elections began to unfold. 

Angst gradually piled up among present Stakeholders led by a top Basketball leader, Samuel Ahmedu who was locked out of supposed annual general meeting of 2016 in Abuja. An assumed running battle had existed between FIBA Man, Ahmedu and NBBF Supremo, Umar. The outcome of the AGM witnessed a much more tensed atmosphere which ultimately divided the Nigeria basketball family.

On the hill of the dispute between the warring parties, some board members of NBBF under Umar including current factional President Musa Kida pitched tent with Ahmedu. Their activities gained momentum ahead of the general federation election. Upon gauging governments supposed body language under the ministry of Youth and Sports, Umar led his group and pulled out of the general election while insisting that the federation must take charge of its own poll. The conduct of different selection processes which took place in different cities on separate dates by the two factions led to emergence of different factions, up to the time I was putting this piece together.

At the moment, Men of Nigeria basketball are pitched against each other. Up until sometimes last year, men at the glasshouse, I’m talking of officials of Nigeria football Federation were in similar mess which nearly shut down Nigeria football but for late intervention. Without any meaningful approach geared towards alleviating the plight of the common man on the street, these Administrators have refused to let accelerated development of Sports become a reality. Daily, they seek ways to enrich themselves through sports when perhaps any other avenue seems blocked.

 

FIBA’s final hammer by the corner

As the crisis which is still sweeping across NBBF lingered, the body governing basketball globally, FIBA struck temporally in July and issued stem warning to both groups. Like their football counterparts would do, FIBA further directed that all concerned including officials of Youth and Sports Ministry and that of Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) should work towards resolving the conflict on or before November 30, 2017.  

Despite the fact that the d-day is drawing closer with barely one month to go, neither of the two warring factions has shown sign of giving up the fight. Efforts by either NOC or the ministry are yet to be seen. Clubs participating in both the Men and Women basketball premier league are on the receiving end.

Image result for tijani umar and d tigersKida-led NBBF who have continued to enjoy government backing is already taking their pound of flesh by getting at some clubs especially at the Savannah conference for perceived loyalty to Umar bloc. Kano Pillars and Gombe Bulls, top teams primed to represent Nigeria at the continental club championship became latest victims even when Umar and co still lays claim to league management vis-a-vis recent financial windfall from sponsors.

Let’s assume that all involved are eager to serve the country, must they cripple the system before their mission would be actualized. Are they (the two Elephants) still not aware that the players and coaches (grasses) are the ones suffering the most? Many who are monitoring the situation still wonder why these administrators have decided to throw caution to the wind and have continued to tell whoever cares to listen that their interest is to offer service.

Apart from the grave outcome awaiting Nigeria when the ultimatum given by FIBA elapse, avoidable and adverse effects of all this battle would surely shut the Nation still struggling with numerous challenges out of the rest of world. Once that happens, basketball players and coaches that their career paths mainly revolve the game would certainly be the worst heat.

May be the leadership of NOC who have continuously promised to resolve the protracted dispute and are yet to take any visible action alongside the powers that be within the Sports Ministry haven’t thought of this and many other consequences. If they did, they would have woke up from long period of slumber and rescue the situation.

Even members of two Sports Committees in the National Assembly are still folding their hands when they should actually and quickly carry out an oversight function on this matter. In spirit of fair-play, conducting a fresh election where both parties within the basketball fraternity could just be a simple way out.Image result for tijani umar and d tigers

Victorious D’ Tigers celebrate after winning African Basketball Championship in 2015. Insert  shows ecstatic Tijani Umar clapping

 

 

 

Source Whirlwindnews.com

Posted on November, 3 2017

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