The Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) has called for calm ahead of tonightâ€™s deadline given by the Federation of International Basketball Associations (FIBA) to the Nigeria Olympic Committee to find an amicable solution to the NBBF leadership impasse.
At a media briefing held yesterday at the secretariat of Lagos SWAN, the Vice President of the NBBF, Babs Ogunade, gave an assurance that the decision of the apex body will only establish a solid framework for future elections in Nigeria.
Ogunade said that the board had compromised several times just for the sake of basketball and its growth but the outgone board had been so adamant despite attempts by the NBBF President, Musa Kida to open up communication.
â€œWe had to sign an undertaken before the Federal Government could allow them use the Indoor Sports Hall in Lagos for the conclusion of the Zenith Women’s final 6 and the concluding part of the Premier League for women.
“When we went to Cotonou for the FIBA Africa 3×3 zonal qualifiers, another team was sent by the Kano group. When it was our turn to play, the Kano team received a call to also come on court despite not registering for the competition. The intention was to cause confusion and create an impression that there was a crisis, but out of maturity, we had to step down our teams in other not to embarrass the country.
“When we went to Madagascar for the draws for the African Champions Cup, the Kano group also sent representatives to come and represent Nigeria, but FIBA in their wisdom related with us,â€ stressed Ogunade.
Also speaking at the event, the international representative on the NBBF board, Col. Samuel Ahmedu (rtd) denied claims that FIBA did not recognise their election.
â€œAccording to the letter sent to the different groups and the NOC, FIBA categorically stated that they were investigating the allegations of government interference during the conduct of the June 13 elections held in Abuja under the supervision of NOC.â€
Ahmedu said the result of their findings will determine FIBAâ€™s decision. He corroborated the VPâ€™s claim that the Kano group just wanted to create an artificial crisis where there was none.
â€œDespite our clear cut directives to teams not to participate in the final 6 and final 8 competitions subject to approval, we still compromised and allowed the teams that emerged from that championship to represent Nigeria at the international stage.â€
Ahmedu who is the Benue state basketball association chairman pointed fingers at the former board for several attempts to sabotage the countryâ€™s effort during the preparations for the cup of nations for men and women.
“When we were preparing for the women’s competition, the former board called some of the players not to report to camp because a special camping arrangement had been made for the players to be camped in Tunisia. For the men, most of the 2015 set who won the Afrobasket were influenced not to come play for their fatherland. Because of that, many of them gave different excuses while some demanded to be paid as much as 200,000 dollars before playing for Nigeria.”
The playersâ€™ representative on the board, Ejike Ugboaja maintained that FIBA who are interested in promoting the game globally will look for alternatives rather than banning Nigeria who are the reigning champions in the African cup of nations for women and FIBA Africa 3×3 competition for men.
â€œThe players just want to play basketball. We are tired of the efforts by some people to destroy the fibre of basketball in Nigeria.”
He blamed Umar for the crisis rocking the Nigerian basketball and the embarrassment at the international level.
â€œHe knew his time was up, that was why he went to Kano to conduct an election on the 12th of June. His plan was to use the election to muddle up the pond and create a rancorous situation which will force round table discussions.”
He said in line with the FIBA guidelines, the former president of the NBBF, Tijani Umar has completed his mandate of two terms and he is statute barred to even contest for another term of four years.