From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Engineer Ahmadu Musa Kida, has declared his readiness to recontest the leadership of the elite sports in the forthcoming NBBF elections.
Kida praised Youth and Sports Minister Sunday Dare for providing the necessary support for the national basketball team’s participation in the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo, Japan.
He made the declaration of his intention to contest at a media parley in Abuja ahead of the 2021 Basketball Premier League season which starts off simultaneously in the Atlantic and Savannah conferences.
‘For me, what is important to go into the elections is for us to be able to make this programme very sustainable. In my consultations, the last four years have been interesting. Basketball is a sport that Nigerians are expecting the country to go out and win without excuses,’ he stated.
‘So, for me, we are on a good path. I am ready to serve in whatever capacity that I can in order to put these structures in place; so that Nigerian basketball will be better,” Kida noted, adding that ‘position does not matter. President or not, the most important thing is to sustain the legacy already achieved. I am ready to serve if the NBBF finds me fit.’
Meanwhile, Kida also appreciated Dare for the supportive role he played during the Tokyo Olympics Games, emphasising that the minister worked assiduously to ensure that the lapses created on the Nigeria Basketball teams by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) through the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) were corrected
‘I commend the Hon Minister on his role in ensuring that the basketball teams have a full complement of their officials at the Olympics Games in Tokyo.’
The NBBF boss argued that with the incident at the Olympics, both the IOC and NOC can be accused of tactically sabotaging the efforts of the Nigeria Basketball teams from getting to the podium at the games.
The Chairman further described the wrong instruction given to the NBF by the IOC through NOC before the event as sabotage that became a cog in the wheel of acceleration of the Nigeria teams at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
According to him, ‘we were always entitled to a full complement of our officials in the Games, but after our preparations, and getting to the Olympic proper, the NOC came with the directive that we are only entitled to only 3 officials which included only two technical officials.
‘I was very sad to understand that they are only going to allow three of our technical officials, instead of the eight or nine which we are already used to. This actually affected the team immensely and cost us the first two games.
‘We became more suspicious when the games began, we discovered that other countries were carrying full complements of their coaches and officials, even countries that do not have as many athletes as we did.
‘From there, the players became demoralised no doubt, as they could not have their coaches that could be giving them the needed technical talks. What NBBF did though was to make sure that everybody was on the ground. That hurt us so badly, no doubt about it.
‘We interrogated the basketball governing body FIBA who actually claimed ignorance on why such instructions came from the IOC at the Olympics. It was the same situation for both the men and the women teams,’ Kida noted.
‘Seeing the situation on the ground, the minister rallied round to see that there was an increase in the number of our officials for the teams.
‘The minister really helped us all out by ensuring that we had an increase in the number of officials, by then, we had lost the first two matches at the Olympics. It was through the efforts of the minister that the camp was finalised without any issue.
‘This was enough boost for us, we can’t thank the minister enough. Nigerians should be proud of us, for us to go to the Olympics, there were many basketball nations that could not make it but as for Nigeria, both men and women teams participated, I take pride in that and I would like us to build on that, and want Nigerians to commend the minister for his support,’ Kida insisted.
In a related development, Nigeria’s men basketball league finally came alive in grand style in Abuja on Wednesday after years of faltering.
The NBF league commenced at Package B of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja and in Akure, Ondo State.
A court case had stopped the league over the years, but the February judgment quashed all the cases, a verdict many described as a victory for basketball in the country.
Addressing reporters on the resumption, Kida assured that measures have been put in place to have a better Nigeria Basketball Premier League.
‘All hands are on deck to commence the Basketball Premier League in both the Atlantic and Savannah conferences. The Secretariat is responsible for dispatching letters to the various clubs and that is the reason the League is starting in Abuja,’ he noted.