FG unbans basketball, urges Kida to embrace other stakeholders
The Federal Government, yesterday, reversed its decision to withdraw Nigerian teams from international competitions for two years. But this is coming after Nigeria’s women national team, D’Tigress, which had earlier qualified for the 2022 FIBA Women World Cup billed to hold in Australia, had been replaced with Mali by FIBA.
The Federal Government had on May 12, 2022, withdrawn Nigerian men and women teams, including youth sides, from international competitions, saying it will use the period to reorganise the sport in the country and also lay a grassroots development pathway.
It also named an interim management committee, headed by Dr. Henry Nzekwu, to oversee the sport during the period.
But a statement signed by Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Alhaji Ismaila Abubakar, yesterday, cited “intervention by concerned stakeholders, former Nigerian international basketball players and well-meaning Nigerians to seek for solutions to the issues that triggered the decision,” as some of the significant events that led to government’s decision to change its stance on the issues.
The statement also disclosed that the Ministry of Sports held a video conference meeting with the top hierarchy of FIBA, adding that the parley “produced common understanding in certain general areas, concluding with a commitment by both FIBA and Nigeria to explore and collaborate on enhancing relationships, development of basketball and reaffirming mutual respect for the laws and Constitution of Nigeria as a sovereign state, and also FIBA.”
It added that the leadership of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), led by Musa Kida, on June 17 wrote a letter of appeal to Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, where they apologised to President Muhamadu Buhari and the minister for “embarrassment the developments around basketball and the conduct of some stakeholders has brought upon Nigeria.
“The letter appealed to the minister to use his good offices to approach President Buhari for the reversal of the two-year withdrawal of Nigeria from International basketball competitions.
“The appeal letter also critically gave some key undertakings: to immediately set in motion the process of status review or constitutional amendments from stakeholders as collated by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development; to set up a high powered team to reconcile all contending parties in the basketball family at home and abroad, and a commitment to work with the ministry in the governance and development of basketball, among other things.
“Above all, the compliance of NBBF to the issues at stake made this possible.”
The statement said after considering the NBBF’s appeal, Buhari agreed to rescind the decision, but warned the Federation and other sports bodies that “Nigeria cannot be subjugated to any other law, and every Nigerian entity must respect Nigerian laws and authority governing various sectors.”
He reminded people leading government organisations that they hold such positions in trust for the people of Nigeria under the direct supervision of the Minister of Youth and Sports.
The statement added that the president directed the Ministry of Youth and Sports ensure the speedy implementation of the undertakings by NBBF, which formed a major basis of his reversal.