The Pro- NBBF campaigners have tried endlessly, to paint the sports ministry in bad light while also trying to gather enough support and sympathy for the NBBF Board rendered redundant by the recent decision of the Sports ministry to withdraw Nigeria from all international competitions for atleast two years.
Unlike in the past when these men would easily have accused the sports ministry of interference, this time, their hands are tied because the ministry in it’s wisdom, cleverly avoided these controversies by playing smart.
A dissolution of the board of the NBBF would have incurred the wrath of the Federation of international Basketball Association (FIBA), and would have given the opposition enough reason to condemn the sports ministry with their usual claim of government interference.
Unfortunately, the NBBF has not gotten to that point where they can pride themselves as being autonomous. That is because, the federation still depends on government fundings to execute most of it’s competitions.
Secondly, the federation cannot operate without the athletes who incidentally are citizens of this country and as citizens of this country, government reserves the right to decide if they should participate in international competitions or compete locally.
Every country wants to showcase her talents internationally. The whole essence of taking part in international sporting competitions is to create a platform for the youths of this country to have an opportunity to meet people of other countries, to make new friends and to foster peaceful co-existence among participants and competing countries.
Nigeria Basketballers have performed excellently in the last five years but in the midst of these excellence, lies an unstable leadership.
The crisis in the NBBF has exposed the many ills in the administration of the sport, there have been allegations and counter allegations of misappropriation and misapplication of funds.
Players have protested locally and internationally demanding for unpaid match bonuses. There have been instances where the image of Nigeria has been severely tarnished because some individuals failed to do their job. Or perhaps because, these players are taking advantage of the crisis to make unnecessary claims or demands.
There is also a complete neglect of the local league which is none existence. A league that was once sponsored by Zenith Bank has been abandoned because the warring factions could not put aside their personal differences for the good of the sport.
Government cannot sit back and pretend as if all is well when in truth, a lot has gone totally byserk.
As the Supreme body incharge of sports in Nigeria, the ministry tried to wade into the matter, using all available means at it’s disposal to broker peace between the Tijani Umar Led board and the Engineer Musa Kida led body.
In January this year, the nation was excitedly looking forward to the end of the crisis during the federation elections, but there was yet another shocker. Two Elections took place. One in Edo and another in the federal capital territory, Abuja.
What this means is that, two presidents have again emerged to further prolong the crisis and leave government with only one option, which is to wield the big stick.
Ordinarily, dissolving the board of the federation would have been the best option but the ministry was aware of the implication of such action so they opted for the other, which is, withdrawing the National teams from international competitions for two years.
In taking this decision, the ministry left the two federation presidents with the option of joining in the rebuilding process. No one told them to stop flaunting their egos as NBBF presidents but what the ministry did in this case, is to set up an independent body, saddled with the responsibility of organizing grassroot competitions starting with an Under-18 championship.
It is rather unfortunate that many did not see the wisdom in this decision but for the benefit of doubt, the ministry was quick to highlight the reasons behind their action as follows.
- The need to put an end to five years of endless leadership crisis
- The urgent need to revive the Basketball league after many years of neglect
- The need to make the environment conducive once again for sponsors to invest in Nigeria Basketball
- The need to give our local players a chance to grow
- The need to create local competitions where talented basketballers can be discovered in two years.
All these are the reasons behind government’s decision which if properly looked at, became inevitable and was done in the best interest of the sport and the athletes.