NBBF election: Kida swimming against the tide | Dailytrust

NBBF election: Kida swimming against the tide

Basketball players protesting against Kida on Thursday in Abuja
Basketball players protesting against Kida on Thursday in Abuja

On June 13, 2017, Engineer Musa Ahmadu-Kida, under controversial circumstances, emerged as the president of the Nigeria Basketball Federation.

Unlike other elections that were held at the MKO Abiola national stadium, the NBBF election that produced Kida as president was held in the night at the Grand Ibro Hotel in Abuja.

Meanwhile, another election had taken place in the ancient city of Kano on the same day and the then incumbent, Tijani Umar, was re-elected for another four years in office.

The two elections produced two factional presidents of the NBBF. While Kida who enjoyed the backing of the then Minister of Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung controlled the national teams, his antagonist, Umar took charge of the Men’s Premier League that was sponsored by Kwese.

Following a disagreement over the Men’s basketball league, a group representing some of the basketball clubs took Kida’s board to court. However, after back and forth, the court delivered judgment in favour of Kida. This development came after he was recognized by FIBA.

The court decision came as a huge relief for Kida whose four years as NBBF president were characterized by one form of crisis or another. It must be acknowledged that despite what his supporters called detractions, the two senior national teams, particularly the D’Tigress, achieved good results under Kida.

However, before he could enjoy the uneasy calm that came his way late last year, his tenure was over as the Ministry of Sports and Youth Development ordered for elections into most of the sports federations, including basketball.

Based on his pedigree and relationship with the Ministry of Sports, Kida, just like some of his colleagues, was appointed Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the NBBF. Expectedly, he also didn’t hide his intention to run for a second term.

Kida’s second term ambition was received with mixed feelings among basketball stakeholders. Therefore, even before he could start his campaign, a group called the Nigerian Basketball Vanguard surfaced with no other intention than to wrestle the presidency from him.

This didn’t come as a surprise to many because members of the group had all along tagged behind the former NBBF president, Tijanni Umar. And when Umar, a Permanent Secretary in the Presidential Villa personally addressed a press conference in Abuja to state categorically the objectives of the group, nobody needed a seer to know that the crisis in the NBBF was far from over.

Consequently, while other sports federations managed to hold their elections on September 30 as directed by the Sports Ministry, the story wasn’t the same for the basketball federation. After zonal elections, most of which were characterized by violence, it was practically impossible to conduct the president and vice president elections.

After the intervention of the Minister of Sports and other sports stakeholders, an extraordinary congress of the basketball federation was held on Saturday, October 9 in Abuja where the congress approved October 30 for elective congress in Benin City.

As preparations towards Benin 2021 intensifies, it has become an open secret that Kida is bent on having a second term while his opponents are determined to stop him from continuing as president of the NBBF.

It is, therefore, not a surprise that various stakeholders under different names have continued to accuse Kida of not playing according to the guidelines as set by the sports ministry.

A former NBA and D’Tigers captain, Olumide Oyedeji, in a chat with reporters described parts of the guidelines as biased.

“It is wrong to have the guidelines stating that you have to reside in Nigeria for four consecutive years in order to be eligible to contest for a position on the board. Yet, we have foreign-based players representing the national teams,” he queried.

If at all he believed he would ride on the back of incumbency to return to his position, Kida should be having a rethink now that he has come under so much bombardment by forces his loyalists prefer to address as ‘agents’ working for his political enemies.

Although Kida seemed to be weathering the storms, things got to a head for him on Tuesday when some of D’Tigress players took to the social media to demand the payment of monies owed them by the immediate past board of the NBBF.

The players’ protest which was targeted at Kida generated instant results as Nigerians immediately rose in support of the girls who only recently won the Afrobasket title for the third consecutive time. As expected, Kida came under severe criticism for failing to meet up with his financial obligation to the players.

However, the Ministry of Sports tried to douse the tension by explaining that the money meant for payment of the girls’ allowances and bonuses was intact in the NBBF domiciliary account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

But in another development, the Sports Ministry wrote the past NBBF board to provide documents detailing its financial transactions as requested by the anti-graft agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), following a petition written against the leadership of the NBBF.

As a matter of fact, reports have it that Kida was quizzed by the ICPC for several hours on Tuesday over allegations that he embezzled over N2b meant to clear the backlog of debts owed the senior national teams.

While his supporters said the action of the girls and subsequent invitation by the ICPC were politically motivated, many wondered why both the Ministry of Sports and Kida had failed to pay the D’Tigress the money that was due to them.

They are being accused of masterminding the ‘attacks’ on Kida but a member of the basketball Vanguard, Pastor Morrison Skambo has absolved his group of complicity in the troubles of the immediate past president of the NBBF.

In a chat with Trust Sports, the former international said “There is nothing political in this case. Umar can never instigate anything because that is not his kind of person. If it were to be a political thing, he could have used his position as the Permanent Secretary in Presidential Villa to clear this but he wanted the due process observed.

“All what the girls have said is true and that is what is happening. A promise is a debt on him. Kida has never told Nigerians how much he has borrowed for the teams. Every time, we hear Kida spent his money and when the money is paid, we don’t know,” he said.

On his part, Kida told Trust Sports that as soon as the girls’ money is made available by the appropriate authorities, he would pay them without further ado. He then declined further comments on the matter.

As he was grappling with the D’Tigress money palaver, home-based basketball players led by their newly elected NBBF representative, Stanley Gumut, took to the streets of Abuja on Thursday to protest against what they described as autocratic rule of the former president.

The players in their thousands carried placards with anti-Kida messages like “We want our league back, Kida must go”, “No to dictatorship, Kida must go”, “Kida called players thugs, no wonder he killed the local league” and a host of others.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has summoned the two warring factions led by Kida and Umar to another emergency meeting over the lingering crisis in basketball.

The meeting which is slated for Monday, October 18, 2021, in Abuja is to find lasting solutions to the 4-year-old feud that has tugged at the heart of basketball in the country.

For now Kida is obviously swimming against the tide and as the elective congress set for Benin City on October 30 draws closer, it is left to be seen if he would surmount all the obstacles is his path to retain his position as president of the Nigeria Basketball Federation.

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