The Nigeria Basketball Federation has been embroiled in a leadership tussle for the last nine months between two factions led by the erstwhile President, Tijani Umar, and Musa Ahmadu Kida.
The Ministry of Sports mandated that all elections into sports federations be held on June 13, 2017, at the National Stadium in Abuja, but the election that threw up Tijani Yusuf held a day before, on the 12th in Kano State, while the one that brought forth Musa Kida held on the 13th, but away from the National Stadium in Abuja.
Tijani Umar ran the NBBF from 2008 – 2016, with the constitution saying he could run for two terms of four years each, which he accomplished, but he wanted a third term and thus called for an amendment to the federation’s constitution. This was accomplished at an extraordinary Annual General Meeting [AGM] that held under the guise of stakeholders’ forum in January 2017.
Musa Kida and his acolytes could not voice their displeasure as they were locked out, albeit, they did not remain silent, using tacit approval from the Ministry of Sports to organise an election at the Grand Ibro Hotel, Abuja, away from the mandated legal place.
Footage or photos from that election have not been seen by anyone apart from those involved including the supervisors – the Nigeria Olympic Committee Secretary, Tunde Popoola, and sports ministry director Hauwa Kulu – the major reason the Kida election had been held up as the right election.
THE INTERVENTION BY FIBA
Ejike Ugboaja, President of the Basketball Players Association of Nigeria, told Punch in February 2017, “All I really want to say now is that we need to improve. We need to stop all the arguments and politics and focus on basketball.”
And FIBA concurred because, at its February 10, 2018 meeting in Nigeria, after audience, seperately, with the honchos of the two factions, decided there is indeed a crisis in the Nigerian basketball household and immediately instituted moves to bring it to an end.
It is in view of the impasse that FIBA thus took it upon itself to amend the NBBF constitution to fit the FIBA template and organise new elections. “FIBA will determine when the NBBF statutes are compliant and reserves the right to oversee parts or the entirety of the elections process”, the letter said.
Currently, the Kida board is in charge of the national teams while the Umar-led team is overseeing the various leagues. “We shall continue with our home leagues and other local activities including concluding the National Divisions 1 and 2 championships,” Mr. Umar revealed after the FIBA letter was circulated.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kida also said his group would cooperate fully with FIBA. “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.”
The dust raised by the battle between the warring factions is yet to settle and sadly, the end to this unfolding scenario can be predicted: Nigerian sports will take a deep plunge to the abyss. Nobody out there amongst the contenders are innocent, but the shame of dancing naked before the eyes of the world should be enough to make us halt and restraint ourselves.
Here is hoping that the the gladiators would sheath their swords as an act of commitment to the amendment of the statutes as instructed by FIBA, which is a pre-cursor to the new elections.
FIBA on its part should make haste to device a timeline geared towards achieving the different directives contained in the letter, as it would eradicate lax and curb any unbecoming act of further exploiting the deadlock situation that the Nigeria Basketball Federation practitioners have inadvertently plunged itself.