President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Mr. Igoche Mark, has welcomed President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to rescind his earlier directive on Nigeria’s withdrawal from international basketball, for two years, few days after a declaration by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
Reacting via a statement to Thursday June 23, 2022 announcement which reversed Nigeria’s self imposed ban from international basketball, Mark also conveyed his appreciation and that of his entire NBBF board to the sports ministry and President Buhari for listening to the yearnings of Nigerians, especially from former international players, and key stakeholders of the game, in Nigeria and diaspora, as he insisted that his NBBF position remains unchanged.
In a statement issued on Sunday in Abuja, Mark however said he was saddened that the impasse in the NBBF, stalled the participation of D’Tigress at the upcoming FIBA Women’s World Cup in Sidney, Australia.
According to the statement, “He stressed that the ladies should not be made to bear the brunt of the regressive infighting, when those who had held the game down for years, and were directly responsible for the 2 years ban placed by Mr.President. Howbeit, the timely reversal by the Commander-in-Chief has resulted to a party mood, because for them,it is business as usual.
“I must commend Mr. President for lifting the ban placed on basketball, indeed it is a great joy to all of us.I also thank the Commander in Chief for listening to the cries of Nigerians, for this, I remain eternally grateful. However, I feel sad for our D’Tigress, because these ladies laboured and toiled to get the ticket but they have been replaced with Mali, and their efforts seem to have been wasted, while those that have held the game down are celebrating the President’s change of mind. Our ladies must not be the sacrificial lamb always.
“Mark then warned those spreading fake news that he has conceded his position as the duly elected NBBF President to Engr. Musa Kida to desist from making an already bad situation, worse.
“According to him, the tenure of the former NBBF President, saw the fortunes of the country’s basketball nosedive, and stagnated to a sorry state, and whatever progress being made now in the domestic scene would not be jettisoned; so as far as he is concerned, and with the backing of key stakeholders, our ultimate goal is to see the soul of the Basketball in Nigeria rescued from shackles of doom.
“I am by this statement making a passionate appeal to all stakeholders of the game, that in accordance to the mandate given to me by genuine stakeholders of Basketball on January 31, 2022 that I remain the President of the NBBF. There was never a time that the Sports Ministry asked me to step down for anybody, besides, it is the responsibility of key basketball stakeholders to elect their NBBF President, as the seat of the NBBF President is neither by appointment nor by selection. Those spreading the fake news that I have quit my mandate as NBBF President are either enemies of our beautiful game or mischief makers.This fight is not about Igoche Mark, but it is for the liberation of basketball,and is a fight that must be won, we must stick together to be able to liberate the game from the shackles of doom. We must liberate the game from those who believe that Nigeria needs international competitions to develop our domestic game.
“Mark went on to harp that the game of basketball must be freed from those who refused to pay players their money, and from those that stopped Rivers Hoopers from participating in the second edition of BAL.
“He signed off by appealling to the Sports Minister, Mr. Sunday Dare not to do the bidding of a single individual, who has repeatedly failed in his responsibilities, and still, despite this individual failed voyage, he wants to continue to kneel on the neck of the game, just for his selfish ambition. He advised the Minister not be neive or chicken hearted in dealing with the root causes of the crisis in the federation that dates back to 2013.”
According to Mark, “the Sports Ministry under the leadership of Mr. Dare still has the chance to stop this absurdity being the trade mark of these individuals who have been on the board of NBBF since 1997 and are the ones responsible for all the problems in the federation since then.The soul of basketball in Nigeria must be fully liberated.”