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NBBF crisis: Anxiety as basketball waits for FIBA verdict

Uneasy calm has enveloped Nigerian basketball following the failure of the Nigeria Olympics Committee, NOC, to amicably resolve the lingering crisis in the Nigeria Basketball…

Uneasy calm has enveloped Nigerian basketball following the failure of the Nigeria Olympics Committee, NOC, to amicably resolve the lingering crisis in the Nigeria Basketball Federation.

Although the November 30 deadline given by FIBA for the crisis to be resolved has since expired, there is still no decision from the international body and this is said to be too cold for the comfort of stakeholders in the sport.

It will be recalled that since June, the NBBF has been enveloped in crisis after two controversial elections produced two presidents to preside over the affairs of the sport federation.

While the then president of the federation, Tijanni Umar was re-elected in Kano for another term on June 12, his main challenger, Ahmadu Musa Kida was elected in another election that held in Abuja on June 13.

Although many stakeholders faulted the venue and time the Abuja election was held, the sports ministry accepted Kida as the authentic president of the federation and went ahead to swear him into office.

Meanwhile, Umar and his camp immediately refused to recognise the presidency of Kida as they also laid claim to the leadership of the NBBF saying the Kano election was conducted in accordance with the statues of the federation as approved by its congress at the Annual General Assembly in Abuja.

Thus, while the Kida faction of the NBBF took charge of the national teams, the Umar group held onto the domestic leagues thereby creating a situation of one sport federation, two presiding presidents.

However, in July, the Secretary General of FIBA, Patrick Baumann, in a letter addressed to leaders of the two factions involved in the dispute, Umar and Kida instructed both parties to resolve it either through a “new election or (preferable) through amicable solution under the auspices of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, before 30 November, 2017.”

FIBA further stressed that in the event that the dispute remains unresolved after the deadline, that the “NBBF will be subject to the possibility of sanctions, including without limitation, a suspension of the membership with FIBA.” 

The international body in addition did not hide its readiness to appoint a taskforce that will safeguard the interest of Nigerian basketball, if sanctions would be applied.

FIBA however said in as much as it was not recognising the Abuja election, it would for purpose of communication deal with the Kida presidency pending the resolution of the crisis.

Meanwhile, the Engineer Habu Gumel’s NOC which is saddled with the responsibility of resolving the crisis continued to dilly-dally as the warring factions traded blames.

After so much heat and tension was generated, the NOC eventually called for a peace finding meeting with the two factions in on Thursday, November 15 in Abuja but the meeting was deadlocked as the gladiators refused to shift ground.

It is said while Kida held tenaciously to his position as president of the NBBF, Umar was favourably disposed to a fresh election as the only way out of the impasse.

As it is, the November 30 deadline given by FIBA has come and gone but the international basketball governing body is yet to take a final decision on the crisis but there is thick cloud of uncertainty hanging over Nigerian basketball.

If FIBA decides to apply sanctions, it would certainly deny Nigeria’s basketball teams the opportunity to compete in international competitions and this is what most stakeholders are worried about.

Although the president of the Nigeria Olympics Committee, NOC, Engineer Habu Gumel did not pick his calls or return text messages sent to his phone, the spokesman of the NOC, Tony Ubani told SHOT! that the committee had sent its report on the crisis to FIBA.

He said NOC is also waiting on FIBA for further directive on the leadership tussle. “The last time we met, Kida objected to fresh election on the ground that he has a valid mandate. Nobody was ready to shift ground so the meeting was deadlocked.

“After our meeting with the two factions, we sent our report to FIBA. There has been no communication yet so we are waiting to hear from them.”

Although the Kida camp is vehemently opposed to another election, the Umar faction has said the only available option left now is fresh election to be conducted.

Speaking to SHOT!, the spokesman of the Umar camp, Patrick Omorodion said since one of the options given by FIBA which is amicable resolution of the crisis has failed, the only option left is fresh election.

“Everything is self explanatory. FIBA had given two options which was for the crisis to be resolved amicably or a fresh election to be conducted.

“From what has happened, one of the options has failed so we are left with only one which is fresh election. We are ready for another election.

“We do not know the content of the report that NOC has sent to FIBA but we are not bothered. They (NOC) are biased in their actions so we are waiting to hear from FIBA,” he said.

Meanwhile as the basketball fraternity in Nigeria continues to wait on FIBA for a decision on the crisis, a former chieftain of the defunct National Sports Commission, Malam Abba Yola has said the way forward is for a fresh election to be conducted.

He said it will be the only way out of the crisis since FIBA had already said it did not recognise either the election in Kano or Abuja.

“My candid opinion is that since the two parties have failed to agree, the only way forward is for the NOC to recommend to the ministry that a fresh election should be held.

“If that is not done, maybe it is FIBA that will order for fresh election, that is if it decides not to apply sanctions against Nigeria.

“Personally I think this is just the way out of the crisis. The better candidate will re-contest and win fair and square and it will be the end of this unfortunate situation,” he said.

Speaking in the same vein, a former director of sports in Katsina State, Alhaji Aliyu Kofar-Soro said to the best of his knowledge there was no election so ordering for a fresh election won’t be a bad decision.

“All I know is that there was no acceptable election anywhere, whether in Abuja or Kano but everybody is laying claim to victory.

“The right thing is to conduct a fresh election in a free and fair manner. Once that is done, the winner will be more acceptable to the stakeholders.

“So I am fully in support of a fresh election so that we settle the matter once and for all,” he said.

From the foregoing, the crisis in the NBBF is festering with no solution in sight as the two factions have refused to settle their differences amicably. 

As it is said in local parlance, FIBA now holds the knife and the yam and it is expected to come up with a decision that would be in the best interest of Nigerian basketball.

Meanwhile, the waiting game continues as nobody can say exactly when FIBA would respond to the report sent to it by the NOC.

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