Disgruntled Nigerian basketball players yesterday spoke in condemnation of the Minister of Youth and Sport, Sunday Dare, for his alleged role in the festering crisis at the Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF).
The players, who staged a protest at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja in objection to the proposed NBBF Elective Congress in Benin on January 31, accused the minister of “backstabbing” and “planning a coup” against Nigerian basketball players.
The protest was led by former players’ representative on NBBF board, Ejike Ugboaja and the newly elected Players’ Representative on the Board, Stanley Gumut.
They had earlier on Tuesday submitted a petition to Dare on the unresolved leadership crisis in the NBBF and their disaffection with the Reconciliation Committee constituted by the minister.
They accused Dare of wasting the players’ time since last year by floating a bogus reconciliation committee that neither met nor invited the players only to submit a report to the minister.
They said the ministry was trying to impose an unpopular candidate on the players as the President of the NBBF.
“I am very emotional about it. Honestly speaking, the Minister of Sport has really failed us, because we took him as a father and expected he was going to give something favourable to us, but for him to come out and say he will allow us to sort out ourselves is disappointing. Why did he not say that the whole time?
“For now, this is more or less a like a coup and barging on us at the last minute to take whatever we see. It is unfortunate and unheard of,” Gumut fumed.
Ugboaja, who played for the national team at the 2012 Olympics in London, described as unfortunate the way basketball was heading in the country.
He said the authorities were trying to force the players to do what they do not want even though the tenure of the last board headed by Ahmadu Musa Kida was over.
“They don’t want an election. They just want to select a President for us. What they are trying to do is push somebody on us that we don’t want.
“They are scared of ban by FIBA Africa and FIBA World. FIBA is not Nigeria and we are not scared of them. As we stand today, if they force a president on us, we are going to ban ourselves from playing basketball. We are crying to Dare, but if he refuses to listen to us, we are going to make a big statement to Nigerians.
“I am very emotional right now, just because they are taking us for granted,” Ugboaja concluded.