The group of major basketball stakeholders have unveiled plans on how they intend to rescue Nigeria’s basketball from the hands of mediocre and strengthen the sport for the better of the players and the country.
The group, which comprises former players of the national teams, national league, collegiate, state basketball associations chairmen, referees, technical commissioners, club owners and media practitioners met in Abuja on Tuesday to demand for fair play and equity in the forthcoming national sports federation board elections.
Former president of the NBBF, Tijjani Umar, accused the former minister of youth and development, Mr Solomon Dalung, of destroying the foundation and structures of Nigeria’s basketball by handing over the sport to traders.
However, he said they’re now determined to stop the institutional destruction of basketball and it’s structures in the country by addressing the fraud and forgery in elections into the board of the NBBF.
“This is a group of Nigeria’s basketball major stakeholders made up of players of national teams, national league, state, collegiate, coaches, referees, technical commissioners, club owners, state basketball associations and basketball media.
“I don’t know where basketball is better represented in Nigeria today than in this group and we would not hold our hands watching mediocre running Nigeria’s basketball.
“In 2017, a mediocre guy cowarded all of us, and the way he left told us that he doesn’t deserve to be there in the first place because he came and destroyed our sports. He destroyed the very ferment on which Nigeria’s sports, particularly basketball, was built.
“I’m speaking of the sacrifice and resilience that built Nigeria’s basketball and we won the African Nations Basketball title in 2015 and placed Nigeria on the pedestal that it belongs to.
“We were the people that built the map you see today banging around. We took the female national team to OKT France against the bad mouths of people at that time who were making decisions at the Sports Ministry. They said the team was not going to win but we told them that managing sports is not about winning today, it is about winning 10 years in the future, and what happened, we came third in 2015 Afrobasket in Cameroon.
“By the time we came back from OKT where our team was exposed and played some of the best teams in the world, Nigeria won the Afrobasket women’s title in 2017. That was exactly what were looking for, we were not building a castling in the air, we knew what we were doing, but one Certain Solomon Dalung took Nigeria’s basketball from people who were committed, nationalistic, love this country and give it to traders.
“From today, the line is drawn and the major objectives of this group is to
stop the institutional destruction of basketball and it’s structures in Nigeria, checkmate the corruption in the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), address the fraud and forgery in elections into the board of the NBBF and strengthen the NBBF structures. Our house is weak and we have termites all over the place.
“There must be accountability and we are going to restructure Nigeria’s basketball through accountable management of resources.
We demand for open and transparent elections and accountability from the sports authority including the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) through legitimate means to ensure there is fair play, equity and inclusion in the overall conduct of NBBF elections,” Umar highlighted the group’s core objectives.
Umar also added: “Nigeria deserves something better than what it has today in basketball. We deserve better deals and we are going to pursue it relentlessly and work with the Nigeria Olympic Committee to ensure that there is fairness and equity in federation elections.”
According to him, the 2021 National Sports Federation elections would mark the turning point of positive change in Nigeria’s basketball and urged all the stakeholders to fully play their rules and ensure that corruption and frauds as a method of running sports in Nigeria is defeated, subdued and completely uprooted.
“The 2017 National Sports Federation elections conducted by a certain Solomon Dalung was a watershed in corruption and frauds. We have the documents, video clips, pictures and all the newspaper cuts about the frauds, charades that took place, but we didn’t do anything because we wanted the national teams to focus. We built the national teams, we own the teams and didn’t want to destroy them. But we are now back to the starting point, the elections and we will not hold our hands watching them doing another charade again.”