NBBF Still In Untold Battlefield

NBBF Still In Untold Battlefield

Joel Ajayi

Everyone believes that a ceasefire will be reached in the crisis rocking the administration of basketball in Nigeria three years ago when the Federation of International Basketball Associations (FIBA) arrived Nigeria to reconcile two factions claiming the soul of the nation’s basketball federation, NBBF.

FIBA promised to bring a lasting solution to the impasse, but the pledge was a mere statement that was empty. It was a promise that never saw the light of the day.

Three years down the line and the NBBF crisis is lingering. There are two factional leaders, Engr. Musa Kida and Tijani Umar who emerged as Presidents from two separate elections. That is an issue that has remained a cog in the wheel of NBBF progress.

The basketball community in Nigeria has been in disarray since, after its 2017 election where two factions of executive members emerged.

This has brought shame to a nation expected to be synonymous with excellence, greatness, openness and fair play according to some stakeholders.

For Basketball it has been a battle among stakeholders who have been divided along two camps with a devastating effect. The period has also been characterised by many as a watershed of corruption and fraud.

However, with the 2021 sports federation elections around the corner, there is a need for all hands to be on deck to ensure mistakes made in 2017 which fostered fraud, corruption and lack of transparency should be jettisoned.

Just recently, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development released a timetable for elections into the board of six federations, including the NBBF, that have their constitutions ratified by their international sports bodies and the Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC).

Based on this, the Nigerian Basketball Vanguard, a group of major basketball stakeholders in the country has demanded a transparent election into the board of the NBBF.

Reactions to the Ministry’s circular announcing that Sports Federation elections into six (6) federations including the NBBF, which “already have their Constitution ratified by their International Sports bodies and the Nigeria Olympic Committee will conduct their election based on their Constitution” have been cautious.

The Stakeholders who met in Abuja insisted that they are not aware of any constitution ratified by the Congress and approved by both the NOC and the sport’s world governing body, FIBA.

Tijani Umar, who spoke on behalf of the group, said major stakeholders of the game in the country had no input in the document which would now guide the conduct of the election.

“This is not a meeting of a faction of Nigeria Basketball Federation, this is a meeting of major basketball stakeholders in Nigeria who are interested in changing the negative narrative that is the order of today in Nigerian Basketball from national teams programs to everything else, so on we want to change all.

“I don’t think we should stand and watch a team of mediocres running basketball in Nigeria, it’s absolutely a huge shame.

“2021 Federation election will be the starting point for the change every stakeholder is expected to play their role and must insist that corruption and sports as method of running sport in Nigeria defeated, subdued and completely annihilated. 2017 election is the most fraudulent election of NBBF in history.

“We can’t change it only by words, there must be commensurate action which means everyone must take action and do something.

While highlighting the group’s objective Tijani said in 2017 Nigerian basketball soul was taken from the hand of people who are committed and was sold to traders.

“Our objective is to stop the institutional destruction of basketball and its structures in Nigeria. Also to checkmate the endemics corruption in NBBF.

“It’s part of our objectives to strengthen NBBF structures. So, the need to conduct a transparent election in 2021 is our concern.”

Also speaking President of one of the technical arms of the sport, Pastor Skambo Morrison, said: “As far as we know, there is no Constitution approved by FIBA or the NOC for the NBBF.

“The Constitution the Ministry is talking about was neither ratified by FIBA nor approved by the Congress as the FIBA Status stipulates.”

He stressed that until all the stakeholders are involved in the process and the Congress of the NBBF approves it, they will not participate in any election being planned for the NBBF.

On his own, the Vice Chairman of the Niger State Basketball Association, Mr Gimba Garba, stressed that a so-called constitution that aims to exclude some individuals cannot be a fair document on which an election can be conducted. “We cannot be part of any process which does not allow a level playing field. Until a true Constitution is ratified and approved by the Congress of basketball, the election should be suspended”, he argued.

While Chairman of the FCT Chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Bunmi Haruna said the association was surprised that a process put in place by FIBA in 2017 for a true resolution of the crisis in the NBBF was stopped halfway.

SPORTS MINISTRY RELEASES TIMETABLE, GUIDELINES

Meanwhile, the sports ministry has fixed September 30th for National Sports Federations Elections and has  released the guidelines for the conduct of the upcoming elections into the boards of sports federations in the country.

The guidelines which spelt out the composition of the Board, Eligibility, Electoral Committees, Election Regulations, Elections Petition Committee, Electoral Appeals Committee, Inauguration, among others, is to be conducted by the respective National Sports Federations, with the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the National Olympic Committee (NOC) acting as election monitors.

According to the Guidelines, each Board shall comprise the President, 1 Vice President, 11 other members or as provided for in their relevant constitution or statute; and a Secretary-General as prescribed in the Code of Governance.

The membership of each Board it says, shall be drawn from the 6 Zonal Representatives (each representing a Geo-Political zone in the country); One (1) Athletes’ Representative of the Sport; One (1) Institutional Sports Representative; Representative of International Sports body of the Sport; Representative of the National Association of Women in Sports (NAWIS); One (1) Representative of the National Association of Physical, Health Education, Recreation, Sports and Dance (NAPHER-SD); One (1) Philanthropist or an Ex-officio member  as well as a Representative of Coach and Officiating official (Technical Bodies of the Sport).

The guidelines which pegged the West African School Certificate (WASC) or its the equivalent for any candidate that will be eligible for membership of the Board of a National Sports Federation stated that he or she should not be less than 25 years or more than 80 years as at the date of the election except in the case of athlete representative who may be below 25 but not less than 18 years of age, as at the time of election.

 It added that Athletes’ representatives shall, in addition, be an active athlete or must have retired from active sports not more than 4 years prior to the election and must have represented Nigeria in at least 2 major international competitions with no drug-related infractions among other requirements.

It stated further that the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is to set up an electoral committee to monitor and supervise the National Sports Federations elections while the Zonal Co-coordinator of the Ministry shall conduct Zonal elections which shall be done by secret ballot with the result announced immediately after the conclusion of the elections by the Chairman of the Electoral Committee.

The Guidelines also contain provisions for petitions, appeals, 2021 National Sports Federations elections timelines as well as National Sports Federations Code of Governance.

However, with days ahead to election many sports stakeholders are demanding nothing but a free and fair, transparency sports federation elections from sports authorities by way of consultation, negotiate persuasion of all relevant stakeholders for the sports sector to progress.


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