The leadership of the Nigeria Basketball Federation has condemned in strong terms attempts to blackmail the federation into making a hasty decision over its continental representation at the 2017 FIBA Africa club championship.
In a communiqué signed by its President, Engineer Musa Kida, over the recent protest letters by Kano Pillars and Gombe Bulls Basketball clubs addressed to the Secretary General of FIBA Africa, Alphonse Bile and the National Assembly, the federation described the latest attempt as a “mere smear campaign against the NBBF for no justifiable reason.”
The federation described the two petitions which were published in the media as attempts to ambush the NBBF and portray the Board in bad light before the basketball community and the world.
“The two teams involved are all supporters of the antics of the former president of the NBBF Board who has refused to hand over to the new board. Kano Pillars are operating from Kano which is the adopted Headquarters of the former NBBF Board, while Gombe, home of Gombe Bulls, is the base the former President who was elected onto the last Board from the North East Zone.
“As at today only Rivers Hoopers Basketball Club of Port Harcourt have replied to the query issued, while others, including Kano Pillars and Gombe Bulls have refused to reply, thus defying the NBBF’s directive once again.
According to Engineer Kida, “The NBBF recognizes the right of all its affiliates and individuals to seek redress whenever the need arises. It is against all norms of established protocol for a club to write a petition to an international body without first discussing the matter involved with its National Federation or at the least copy its petition to its NF and the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) on the subject matter.”
Speaking on the decision of the 2 clubs to petition FIBA Africa and the National Assembly, the NBBF President said the issues at hand are connected to the antagonistic stance of the former NBBF Board led by Tijani Umar over their refusal to cooperate with the new board in line with their agenda to remain in office after completing his term of 8 years in office.
Explaining the genesis of the problem, Kida said “After the National Sports Federations election and the subsequent swearing in of the Board on 21st July, 2017, the board permitted the former Board to conclude the regular season of the Premier Basketball League so as not to disrupt the programme which had already started before it was sworn in, with a directive to hand over at the end of the regular Season preceding the Final 6 whose fixtures at the time had not been drawn since no one was sure of the qualifiers then.
“When the regular Season came to an end, rather than comply with the NBBF’s directive, the outgone Board invited all the qualified clubs to Ilorin and Kano for the Atlantic and Savannah Conference Final 6 Tournaments respectively.”
The NBBF president explained that “without recourse to the NBBF which apart from being recognized by the Federal Government, the NOC and the FIBA letter dated 26th July, 2017, the former board led by Tijani Umar defied the new board’s directive by enticing clubs for the National Final 8 based on monetary inducements from monies received from a sponsor for the Nigerian Premier Basketball League which however found its way into private accounts.”
Kida explained that despite several acts of defiance, the NBBF was still magnanimous enough to write a letter to the clubs with a deadline of 9th October, 2017 to explain why disciplinary actions should not be taken against them for defying the federation.
In the case of Kano Pillars and Gombe Bulls, they have taken the matter to the National Assembly while orchestrating a campaign of calumny in the media and other strata of Nigerian life against the NBBF.”
Kida wondered why Tijani Umar and his cronies chose to create a faction out of all the 34 National Federations whose elections were conducted under the supervision of the NOC and the subsequent inauguration of the authentic Boards by the Minister for Youths & Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung.
Meanwhile, the NBBF will decide on several issues, including its representatives in the FIBA Zone 3 Champions Cup Qualifiers for Men within the next few days, taking into consideration all the attendant issues that will ensure the best for basketball in Nigeria.