President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate return of Nigeria to international basketball.
This was disclosed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Ismaila Abubakar, at a news conference in Abuja, on Thursday, June 23, 2022.
The approval was granted following a letter of appeal dated June 17, 2022, which was signed by Musa Kida, leader of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) board and addressed to the Hon. Minister of Youth and Sports Development Chief Sunday Dare.
Recall, on May 12, 2022, the government had ordered immediate withdrawal of Nigeria from all international basketball competitions for a period of two years.
The ban was unconnected with culmination of a protracted tussle for the leadership of the Nigeria Basketball Federation [NBBF], dating all the way back to 2017 when Musa Kida and then-incumbent Tijani Umar emerged as factional leaders in two separate elections.
According to Abubakar, the leadership of NBBF applogised to the President and Minister over the embarrassment the developments around basketball and the conduct of some stakeholders has brought upon Nigeria.
His statement reads; “The Appeal letter also critically gave some key undertakings: to immediately set in motion the process of status review or constitutional amendments from stakeholders as collated by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, to set up a high powered team to reconcile all contending parties in the basket ball family at home and abroad, and a commitment to work with the Ministry in the governance and development of basketball among other things.
“Flowing from the above and upon a review, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development approached and placed these developments before President Muhammadu Buhari being one that is committed to youth development and desirous of ensuring that they are availed of all opportunities in sports and other endeavors considered the appeal and in the overriding spirit of national interest, love for our youth, and in order to avoid sending basket development into a long period of suspension when NBBF have now committed to resolution of the issues which precipitated the withdrawal in the first place has approved the return of Nigeria to international basket ball immediately.”
The Permanent Secretary, nonetheless, warned that in securing the approval, caution must be taken to ensure that the laws of Nigeria are not subjugated to any other law, and that every Nigerian entity must respect constituted authority.
“Failure to do this, as with any constitutionally bound sovereign nation, will attract sanctions. There was first a country before any organization or federation that bears the Nigerian name, colours and flag us representing Nigeria.
“Secondly, that all those that lead government organizations and in this case our federations, hold such positions in trust for the Government and people of Nigeria under the direct supervision of the Minister of Youth and Sports,” he said.
He added that President Buhari has directed the Ministry of Youth and Sports to ensure the speedy implementation of the undertakings by NBBF which formed a major basis of his reversal.
“The Ministry is to report back to Mr. President on progress,” Abubakar stressed.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian female basketball team, D’Tigress have been kicked out of the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup following the FG’s suspension.
D’Tigress had qualified for the World Cup billed for Sydney, Australia, starting in September 2022, after defeating France and Mali in the Group B of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade.
Mali, who Nigeria beat in the 2021 AfroBasket Women’s Championship final to clinch their fifth title, has replaced the D’Tigress as Africa’s representatives, being the second-ranked team in the group.