Ike Diogu 2nd left and his teammates celebrating the semi final berth of the 2017 AfroBasket tournament

Duro Ikhazuagbe

Solution appears to be in the horizon for crisis-ridden Nigerian basketball as the game’s world governing body, FIBA, has called for fresh elections into the board of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) to end the nearly nine months deadlock.

In a letter the world body’s Secretary General, Patrick Bauman, addressed to both Amadu Musa Kida and Tijani Umar, (the two men laying claim to the exalted office of NBBF Presidency), the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) and the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, FIBA insisted that the two elections in Abuja and Kano respectively failed to meet the general statutes of the global body.

Specifically, based on the report of the three-man panel sent by FIBA to Nigeria to look into the crisis, it said that the election in Kano on June 12, 2017 that returned Umar as NBBF president did not comply with the Article 9.3 of the FIBA Statutes.

Similarly, FIBA also said that the Abuja election won by Kida also failed to adhere to Article 9.7 of the FIBA Statutes.

“The statutes and regulation of national members must comply with the General Statutes and Internal Regulations of FIBA,” the letter from FIBA noted.

“The General Statutes and Internal Regulations of FIBA shall form part of the national member federations’ statutes and regulations. In the event of doubt or conflict the General Statutes and Internal Regulation of FIBA will prevail.”

Article 9.7 of the FIBA Statutes states that: “National members of the federation shall manage their affairs independently and with no influence from third parties. In particular, they must ensure that their officials are either elected or appointed under a democratic process for a term of office for four (4) years. Their statutes must provide a transparent procedure that guarantees the complete independence of election or appointment.”

Bauman, also stated in the letter to the warring parties in NBBF that a new date for fresh election will be announced but until then, FIBA will continue the line of communication with Nigeria through the Kida-led board.

“FIBA will determine when the NBBF statutes are compliant as per the above and reserves the right to oversee parts or the entirety of the election process. Communication still to be maintained with Musa Kida, Babatunde Ogunade and Chimezie Asiegbu until such time as the new elections are held as per our letter of 26 July, 2017,” Bauman’s letter concluded.

In his reaction to the FIBA letter yesterday, Kida maintained that the NBBF will cooperate with the world body in order to come up with acceptable statutes for basketball administration in Nigeria in line with FIBA’s provision.

“Going by the letter received this morning (Thursday), FIBA was silent about the date for a new election as they unequivocally stated that they will maintain communications with the Musa Kida led board. We as a responsible organisation with a passion for basketball development in Nigeria will work closely with FIBA during this critical phase, forging a way forward for basketball in Nigeria,” Kida stressed in a statement issued by spokesman of his board, Oni Afolabi.

He maintained that the continued impasse has affected the expected growth of basketball especially the various national leagues and capacity building programmes for coaches and technical officials as he called on all stakeholders to exercise more patience for the resolution of the matter.

Similarly, the Tijani Umar led faction of the NBBF welcomed the decision of FIBA for a fresh election to settle the lingering leadership dispute of the federation but noted as follows: “ That after observing due process in line with the FIBA Statutes from which the NBBF Constitution was derived, the election held in Kano on June 12, 2017 should have been endorsed by FIBA;

“However, as a body that respects the reconciliation effort of FIBA and having consistently identified a new election as the only way for a fair and equitable settlement of the dispute, we accept the directive of FIBA for a fresh election based on the NBBF Statutes and overseen by FIBA without interference from any third party.”

The statement signed by Media Adviser to the Umar-led NBBF, Patrick Omorodion, however insisted that they will go ahead with the conclusion of the National Divisions 1 and 2 championships currently going on in Ilorin, Kwara State, “ since FIBA has not recognised either of the elections held last June.” It also promised to begin preparations for the elite Kwese Premier League.