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United D’Tigress say no to sports ministry’s ‘part payment’

By Ifeanyi Ibeh
14 October 2021   |   8:13 pm
…want Ministry to hold former NBBF president accountable Nigeria’s women’s national basketball team, D’Tigress, have kindly rejected steps taken by the country’s sports ministry to commence payment of some of the monies owed the team, insisting the ministry should hold off on doing that unless every playing and non-playing staff of the team from 2018…

The Nigeria Women’s National Team, D’Tigress, listen to the national anthem before a pre-Olympic friendly against the USA on July 18, in Las Vegas.

…want Ministry to hold former NBBF president accountable

Nigeria’s women’s national basketball team, D’Tigress, have kindly rejected steps taken by the country’s sports ministry to commence payment of some of the monies owed the team, insisting the ministry should hold off on doing that unless every playing and non-playing staff of the team from 2018 to date is included in the ministry’s plans.

Less than 24 hours after the three-time back-to-back AfroBasket champions expressed their disappointment and anger with the way they had been treated by the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) in recent years, even going as far as threatening to boycott the 2022 FIBA World Cup qualifying tournament over the refusal of the NBBF and the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to meet their demands, the sports ministry, on Wednesday, called upon the Central Bank of Nigeria to commence the processing of the payment to the players.

The payment the ministry asked the apex bank to start processing was from the $230,000 donated before the Tokyo Olympics Games to the women’s and men’s basketball teams by a consortium of Nigerian banks under the ‘Adopt-A-Team’ programme of the ministry which, according to a statement from the country’s sport governing body, was “intact in the NBBF’s official domiciliary account domiciled with the CBN.”

According to D’Tigress, in a video posted on YouTube where they outlined the injustices that have been meted out to them by the NBBF, the amount owed to them by the basketball body and the sports ministry is $197,180. A breakdown of the amount shows $73,180 is owed to the team by the NBBF, $24,000 by the ministry for the Tokyo Olympics grant, and $100,000 from donations from three banks in Nigeria.

D’Tigress, who recently won the FIBA AfroBasket title for the third time in a row, on Thursday, however, respectfully rejected the overture from the ministry unless every playing and non-playing staff, including the vendors who have been with the team since the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup are paid as well.

“It is incredibly sad that we had to take these measures for things we shouldn’t fight for, for it to be addressed. We are glad we have the support of our fans, friends, family, pundits and some leadership around the world to bring awareness to what has plagued not only Nigerian sports but Africa in general,” read part of a statement issued by D’Tigress on Thursday via the team’s official Instagram page.

“We thank the Ministry for their swift response but respectfully decline part payment of monies owed to every member of D’Tigress since 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup (players, officials, behind the scenes staff, vendors etc.). We are a team and will leave no one behind. The Ministry is the governing body of Nigerian sports and needs to hold NBBF former president accountable or take responsibility.”

Musa Kida is the “NBBF former president” referred to in the statement. Currently the incumbent caretaker chairman of the NBBF, following the expiration of his four-year term, Kida is seeking an additional four years in office at the upcoming congress of the basketball federation scheduled for October 30 in the Edo State capital, Benin.

“We also urge the special advisers of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, to bring this awareness to H.E. and trigger our celebratory invite to Aso Rock,” continued the statement.

“The rest of our demand and request on our original interview and document must be discussed moving forward and, hopefully, we can come to a common ground,” added the statement referring to the total amount owed the team, their demand for improved travel conditions, and the hiring of a general manager to oversee the team’s affairs.

The statement also stated that the players “are open to a seat down conversation at the appropriate time” with the Nigerian sports authorities.