*Demand Presidential reception for winning AfroBasket three consecutive times
Stories by Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
Nigeria’s senior women’s basketball team, D’Tigress, have defiantly rejected the offer of part payment truce made by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports on Wednesday, preferring instead that all outstanding bonuses and allowances owed them since the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup in Tenerife, Spain be paid in full.
Their position was revealed yesterday by the team Captain, Adaora Elonu in a press statement issued in reaction to the directive from the Sports Ministry to the Central Bank of Nigeria to begin the processing of the players’ entitlements.
The Sports Ministry had initiated moves expected to douse the disputes between the players and the former board of Nigeria Basketball Federal (NBBF), headed by Ahmadu Musa Kida over bonuses and money donated by corporate Nigeria to the team before Tokyo 2020.
The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Sports, Ismaila Abubakar, on Wednesday authorised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to immediately begin processing the payment of the players’ monies from the NBBF account lodged with the apex bank.
But Adaora, who led the team to a historic third consecutive FIBA Afrobasket triumph in Cameroon last month, said the players have rejected the terms of part payment made by the ministry.
She called out the ministry as the supervising sporting authority in Nigeria to either hold the former President of NBBF accountable or take responsibility for the bonus saga.
“It is incredibly sad that we had to take these measures for things we should not fight for, for it to be addressed. We are glad we have the support of our fans, families, pundits and some leadership around the world to bring awareness to what has plagued not only Nigerian sports but Africa in general.
“We thank the Ministry for their swift response but respectfully decline part payment of monies owed every member of D’Tigress since 2018 FIBA World Cup (players, officials, behind the scene staff, vendors etc). We are a team and we leave no one behind. The ministry is the governing body of Nigerian sports and needs to hold NBBF former president accountable or take responsibility,” the statement said.
The players, who threatened to boycott the forthcoming 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup qualifiers that are billed to hold later this year, insisted all their demands that were circulated on social media must be discussed and resolved before they would shift ground.
Some of the talking points, which they said are not negotiable, included $73,118 allowances per each player, $24,000 grant due to each player and $100,000 being their share of the $230,000 donated by three of the country’s biggest banks on the eve of the Olympic Games.
The others are improved travel conditions for the team in addition to the hiring of a team General Manager.
They also asked the sporting authority to impress it on President Muhammadu Buhari to organise a state reception for the team in recognition of their historic consecutive continental feat.
They noted that the state reception is key as it would mark the first time most of them would be visiting Nigeria since the 2017 Women’s Afrobasket flourish in Mali.