March 10, 2018 is the D-day. It’s the very day top officials of the World Basketball body; Federation of International Basketball Association (FIBA) will gather and receive report from three-man delegation they sent to Nigeria to carry out their findings on the lingering crisis plaguing Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) since June, last year.
One thing is certain. After the presentation by FIBA Africa President, Alphonse Bile-led team on the day, all ears will be on ground to hear the final verdict from faraway Mies, Switzerland, headquarters of FIBA popularly known as ‘The House of Basketball’.
In all of the claims and counter-claims regarding the imbroglio which has seemingly crippled basketball in the country, neither the Ministry of Youth and Sports (government Supervising body), nor Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) mustered the needed catalyst to quench the raging fire between two warring factions led by Alhaji Tijani Umar and Musa Kida.
When the impasse firstly came to fore shortly before electioneering period that ushered in new executive board of various federations, little did many know that it would linger this much.
However, a lot of factors led to the ‘unending’ battle long before FIBA intervened.
In the beginning, actors (Administrators at the federation and club levels), officials of Youth and Sports Ministry as well as other interested groups or individuals laid out their dagger with conflicting convictions.
I can vividly remember when some Stakeholders early 2016 or so stormed NAF Conference centre in Abuja to be part of a gathering involving who is who in NBBF then but were asked not to make their way in on an account that they were not dully invited. Even though I was meant to know that the then singular act flared intense nerves, there were indications that certain animosity had saturated their inner being.
As the election into the various sporting federations drew near, those who felt they have been shut out of the ‘sharing formula’, sort ways to re-launch their relevance. They jettisoned already adopted constitution by the then NBBF board and the general congress and preferred to tag along with the general sporting election guidelines.
The outcome of the moves which ensued gave birth to two separate NBBF elections held in Kano and Abuja, respectively.
While those involved in the Kano election insisted on operating autonomously, the other group (government loyalists) went on with National Sporting federation electoral stipulation. Leaders for two clusters eventually emerged and began to operate on separate lines.
Against expectation, Youth and Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung and other key ministry officials couldn’t wade in before FIBA gave marching orders to all concerned to resolve whatever led to the bickering with deadlines (in December and February).
After failing to initiate meaningful resolutions, Minister Dalung who was visibly unhappy told visiting three wise men (FIBA Africa Supremo and two other senior officials) that nothing like crisis existed within the Nation’s basketball structure. His reaction jolted many but the FIBA representatives who aptly indentified areas of conflicts within the Nigeria basketball architecture maintained that nothing would stop them from tabling their observations to the entire FIBA body next month.
In fact, Bile, leader of FIBA delegation to Nigeria before leaving and after their meetings with relevant Persons particularly assured; “Nigeria is very strategic and important to the basket world hence the decision to send the high-powered delegation to meet with the stakeholders in the country with the view of finding a lasting solution to the impasse.
“We are here because we know that there is problem in Nigerian basketball. I also want to say that Nigeria is very important to FIBA and that is why we are here to help solve this problem.
FIBA hopes that Nigeria will rise and take her rightful place, but it is unfortunate that Nigeria has come to speak with different voices. It is our hope and desire that this visit will help us to get our acts together.
“I tell you that we are here because it is a country like Nigeria, if it was some of these other countries, this is a crisis we will resolve over the phone. We want Nigeria to do the needful and carry the rest of Africa on her shoulders. We must respect procedures, rules must be followed, and we are for due process”.
At the moment, what is left is for Nigerians who appear to be in love with basketball after football is to know how the protracted issues will be resolved. Whatever be the case, the only fundamental message this kind of ‘roforofo’ fight preaches is that; justice, equity and fair play can only be a recipe for long lasting solution in any human endeavour which must be applied in the sporting fraternity also.
Again, National Assembly should come up with legislative endorsement that would nail much of government meddlesomeness in the day-to-day activities of all sporting federation if the dream of taking any sport to enviable heights would be achieved.