Niggling issues in Buhari’s 2-year ban on basketball | Dailytrust

Niggling issues in Buhari’s 2-year ban on basketball

Nigeria will never stop to amaze some of us. While other countries that participate in sports do everything possible to prevent any ban that may be imposed on them by international organisations they are affiliated to, Nigerians consciously look for ways to be banned and when none is forthcoming, they sometimes inflict one on themselves.

On Thursday, May 12, Nigerians, especially basketball stakeholders were shocked to their marrow when the news that President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered for immediate withdrawal from international basketball competitions hit them hard. Apart from those who masterminded this latest disaster, nobody saw it coming.

The Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, who made the announcement on behalf of Mr President, said it had become imperative for Nigeria to step back from international engagements to have ample time to treat the endless crises that have continued to bedevil the sport in the country.

To assuage Nigerians, the man who announced the death knell on basketball explained that the two-year break will be used judiciously as an interim Management Committee (IMC) to oversee the management and development of domestic basketball leagues would be set up.

While calling on players, officials, fans and other stakeholders to remain calm, Dare assured that the government would utilise the break time to address all contentious issues among the stakeholders

As reassuring as his words may sound, those who have closely followed the ongoing crisis in Nigerian basketball can justifiably conclude that there was nothing in the address of the Minister of sports to inspire anyone.

Nigerians are worried that the crisis which was ignited as far back as 2017 by two friends, Engineer Musa Kida and Mallam Tijani Umar over the presidency of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) is going to outlive two sports ministers.

The former Minister of sports, Solomon Dalung, is believed to be the bad Games Master who laid the foundation for the present crisis when he openly interfered in the electoral process that produced the first two factional presidents of the NBBF board.

He was accused of taking sides with Kida against Umar who had dared the sports ministry over electoral guidelines and constitutional amendments. Eventually, two NBBF elections were held. The one in Abuja conducted under the cover of darkness at Ibro Grand Hotel produced Kida as president while the one in Kano returned the then incumbent, Umar as the other president.

Dalung was unable to handle the raging inferno that he had allegedly started. At the end of his four-year tenure, he left office but the seed of discord that he had allegedly sowed has continued to bear the bad fruits that are now threatening to sink Nigerian basketball.

When his successor was appointed in 2019, there was hope that he would find a way round the leadership problem in Nigerian basketball. Unfortunately, Dare has proved in words and deeds that even if he means well for the sport, he lacks the competence to quench the fire in the NBBF.

Just like his predecessor, he failed to midwife a rancour free NBBF election. His administration has also produced two factional presidents. From his body language, he wasn’t satisfied with the performance of the Kida led board but was unable to effect the change he must have desired.

At a point when Kida was about to sink in the myriad of allegations of corruption levelled against him, many believed it was a good opportunity for Dare to strike to free basketball from the iron grip of the NBBF helmsman.

Unfortunately, after so much hullabaloo, nothing was heard about the over N2 Billion corruption allegation against Kida as he became even more daring to the extent that he single-handedly took the 2022 NBBF elections to Benin City where he was returned unopposed.

Kida has indeed proved to be too strong for the sports ministry to tame. Obviously, he is not popular among Nigerian basketball players and other stakeholders who desperately want him to quit. However, he appears to have penetrated FIBA to such an extent that the international body believes in him more than the sports ministry.

Now, the reason given by the Federal Government for the self imposed two-year ban is the intractable problem in the NBBF. Does the government want to use two years to solve a problem that it has failed to solve in nearly six years? Doing so will be a herculean task.

Personally, I do not see any immediate end to the leadership crisis in the NBBF. Therefore, instead of banning basketball from international competitions, which is a direct attack on innocent players like the D’Tigress who are billed to feature in the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup, the government should have concentrated more on resolving the intractable leadership crisis.  

The federal government can ban basketball for 100 years but if the faulty 2017 and 2019 constitutions of the NBBF which are obviously self serving are not discarded for a new constitution to be enacted by Nigerians who are patriotic, knowledgeable, neutral, there will be no way out of the woods for basketball.

As a matter of fact, nobody needs a seer to know that a constitution acceptable to all stakeholders would produce free and fair elections and save us from the needless headache of two factional NBBF presidents.

It is my fervent hope that whoever sold the terrible idea of the 2-year ban to President Buhari will go back and convince him to reverse his decision. The ban is a big threat to the survival of Nigerian basketball.

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