Following the leadership crisis that has dogged Nigerian basketball for more than eight years, the Federal Government, yesterday, withdrew the country from international competitions for a period of two years.
Citing the “unending crises that have plagued and nearly crippled basketball development in the country,” the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development said President Muhammadu Buhari approved the action for the period to enable the country tackle the issues.
Speaking in his office yesterday, Youth and Sports Development Minister, Sunday Dare, said the move would also provide government opportunity to revamp the sport from the grassroots, as well as revive the domestic leagues, which have become moribund.
Represented by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Ismaila Abubakar, Dare said the withdrawal will also allow for the setting up of an Interim Management Committee (IMC) to oversee the management and development of domestic basketball leagues and further address other related issues around the advancement of the game in the country.
He added: “Government intends to utilise this period of break to address all contentious issues among stakeholders. The Terms of Reference (TOR) and membership of the Interim Management Committee will be announced in due course.”
Dare also reiterated “government’s interest and commitment to the development of basketball in Nigeria, as well as huge talents of our youth domestically in an atmosphere that is free of rancour and squabbles.”
He called on players, officials, fans, and other stakeholders of the sport to remain calm “as government embarks on far-reaching initiatives to reposition, sustain and stabilize the game of Basketball for growth and success in the long term interest of the country.”
Recall that some basketball players had on Tuesday converged on the minister’s office to register their displeasure with government over its seeming unwillingness to resolve the post election crisis rocking the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF).
Two separate NBBF elections were held on January 31, 2022 in Abuja and Benin with winners of the polls claiming to be the authentic leaders of the body.
The Abuja NBBF faction election produced Igoche Mark as the body’s president, while the polls in Benin returned Musa Kida as the federation’s boss.
The angry players, led by Players Representative on the Abuja factional board, Stanley Gumut, told journalists that the procession to the minister’s office was part of resolutions reached at their meeting held last week.
Gumut said players were not happy that the ministry appeared indifferent, while the leadership tussle was taking a toll on their careers, adding that the situation is hampering the growth of the domestic component of the game.
By Alex Monye