By Ishaku Kigbu,
Since the outcome of the elections that took place in Kano and Abuja producing Tijjani Umar and Ahmadu Musa Kida on June 12 and 13 respectively, as president of NBBF. I have read and listened to narratives regarding that with utmost interest. For reasons of time and space, my main preoccupation is to attempt to set the records straight from an insider’s vantage position whilst seeking to highlight the current realities based on the letter sent to both the Musa Kida and Tijjani Umar camps from the Federation of International Basketball Association (FIBA) on July 26 in view of deliberate and concerted effort to distort them. The fiba letter has put the issues on ground in the right and unambiguos perspective, charted the way forward while also making it clear to the parties in dispute as well as other vested interests fueling the dispute, the consequences of their actions or inactions should that scuttle the development of basketball in Nigeria.
As it stands, both the Musa Kida camp and that of Tijjani Umar are laying claim to the legitimacy of their elections and leadership of the federation. While that of Umar is hinging its strength on FIBA General Statutes based on Article 9.10 which gives power to a national member federation to maintain full control and governance of basketball in their country, armed with a potent tool,the federation’s Constitution that was ratified by its congress which in any democratic sport’s organisation is supreme, in addition to other veritable tools of good governance, the Musa Kida group relies principally on the personal and institutional support of the Ministry of Sports headed by its Minister, Solomon Dalung. Another vested interest is the Nigeria Olympic Committee; a body that ought to be autonomous but currently an appendage of the Ministry of Sports, thanks to the outright compromise of its Secretary-General,Tunde Popoola who has over time made a name for himself in that endeavor.
So, based on several correspondence shared between FIBA and both camps, the international body overseeing basketball the world over made its position clear and pointed. But some interests have been twisting the facts contained in the FIBA letter sent by its Secretary General, Patrick Baumann to Musa Kida and Tijjani Umar and copying Habu Gumel, NOC President, Hamane Niang, FIBA Africa President and Alphonse Bile, FIBA Executive Director Africa.
First, FIBA acknowledged the fact that there were numerous conflicting reports and innuendoes regarding the situation surrounding the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) elections, and based on that is not satisfied with the outcome of both elections. According to FIBA, because none of the elections was carried out in full compliance with the FIBA General Statutes and pursuant to Article 9.10 of its statutes, it cannot recognise either the Musa Kida nor Tijjani Umar election.
FIBA also said it has noted its communication with the Nigeria Olympic Committee Secretary General, Tunde Popoola, whom I gathered acted on his own without the knowledge of the NOC Executive or its President, Habu Gumel to write FIBA recognizing the election held on June 13 producing Musa Kida. It must be mentioned here that up till the moment of writing this,neither the NOC Executive Committee nor Board has met to deliberate on the Sports Federations Elections or its outcome. It is therefore rather strange and curious that it’s scribe would go ahead and initiate any correspondence on a matter as important as the federation elections without the knowledge of the membership of its relevant organs. That the Nigerian Ministry of Sport recognised the June 13 election is understandable since it played the roles of judge,jury and hangman in the overwhelmingly discredited process.
My dilemma is that FIBA has stated in its letter that because the board elected on June 13 appears to be favourably recognised as the governing body by important sporting authorities in Nigeria, based on the correspondence between it and the NOC scribe and Ministry of Sports, resulting in FIBA opting to ‘communicate’ for official correspondence for the time being with the Musa Kida faction, a lot of stakeholders are deliberately given the impression that the Musa Kida board is the recognised body internationally. It is complete falsehood. Those spreading these tissues of lies are only mischievous and economical with the truth because FIBA went a step further to clarify that in the same letter: “ However, as mentioned above, the allegations of state intervention and non-democratic elections at the NBBF continue to be studied by FIBA. Therefore, while this letter clarifies the line of communication between FIBA and it’s members and divisions on the other hand, and NBBF on the other, it shall NOT BE Understood As Recognition By Fiba Of The Management Elected On 13 June, 2017.”
Once FIBA was able to establish this fact that has been unfortunately twisted by the Kida faction for selfish interests, the international body not new to antics of mischief makers went further to warn that only two options are open for Nigeria to escape sanctions if the dispute is not resolved between now and November 30. It warned that: “ FIBA herewith instructs the NBBF to resolve this current dispute internally, whether through new elections or (preferably) through an amicable solution complying with FIBA General Statutes, before 30 November 2017. In the event that a solution as clearly defined is not reached, the NBBF will be subject to the possibility of sanctions, including without limitation a suspension of its membership with FIBA. In such case, regardless of any sanctions, FIBA will appoint a task force that will take any appropriate measure(s) in the interest of basketball in Nigeria.”
In conclusion, now that the facts of the letter from FIBA have been laid bare; all eyes are on Nigeria,currently a mature nation in terms of basketball development -to do the right thing. I believe the body language of especially the Sports Ministry is far from giving confidence as to a generally acceptable outcome to both parties in settling the dispute. The best option in my opinion is to allow democracy to take its full course by way of another credible election to be contested by both parties and to be midwifed and supervised by FIBA in full compliance with its relevant laws, otherwise I envisage the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) eventually having to help out with necessary interpretations to put the matter to rest. Whatever happens ultimately, the overall interest of the players, officials and all basketball stakeholders should be taken into consideration.
– Kigbu, former Group Sports Editor of Leadership Group Newspapers wrote in from Abuja. Can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
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