Basketball Ban: North East Zone Talks Tough, Withdraw From Sports Ministry’s Sponsored Activities

 Basketball Ban: North East Zone Talks Tough, Withdraw From Sports Ministry’s Sponsored Activities

  • Sports
  • May 26, 2022
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BY ANI EMMANUEL CHIDI
There are strong indications that more would still be seen on the problem caused by the unilateral decision of Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare to pull Nigeria out of world basketball for two years.
The decision of the Minister, which he allegedly claimed was sanctioned by President Muhammadu Buhari, has not really gone down well with the stakeholders of the game who have continued to denounce the unpopular action.
On Wednesday, the body responsible for the governing of the sport in Nigeria, the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) issues a strongly-worded statement to state that it won’t accept the Minister’s action, while also condemning it as illegal. A few hours later, zonal associations of basketball in the country also voiced out their disapproval of what they described as Sunday Dare’s plan to truncate the development of the sport in Nigeria.
It is not surprising, however, that the North East Basketball Association is expressing its support for the NBBF stand and statement issued on May 25 2022, calling on all basketball stakeholders and players to boycott all Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports organized basketball jamborees called games or tournaments or any similar activity due to pulling the game out of international tournaments by the ministry.
Speaking on behalf of the zone, Abba Kaka, the North East Zonal representative on the NBBF board stated that: “It is obvious to us all that the Ministry of Sports and the Minister are being remotely controlled by enemies of the game. Otherwise, how do you explain the fact that the ministry can make a U-turn to its own press statement of  September 30, 2021?
“They clearly stated it that there is only one NBBF Constitution of 2019, vetted and approved by the ministry, NOC and FIBA. That the NBBF should proceed with the election and any other issues of the amendment should be done in line with the Constitution and after the Election.
“It simply does not make sense other than greed and selfishness over national interest. How can you pull out the only game that brought fame and glory to Nigeria in the last four years? Both men’s and women’s national teams qualified for the World Cup at the same time, a first on record for Nigeria.
“We categorically condemn this in the strongest terms. This ill-informed and not well thought out decision by the Minister. We are calling on all players and stakeholders to be calm and patient as we are working hard to make sure that decision is reversed immediately.
“To our ladies who have already qualified for the World Cup, we say, your efforts will not be in vain. Most states in Nigeria have already said they will not participate in the ministry activities and the North East cannot be left behind. That is why the Ministry is putting pressure on the zonal offices to draft and register any team or player who wants to play in the jamboree.
“When we came on board four years ago, basketball was at ground zero. We worked hard to turn around the game. For example, Borno State featured and qualified for the first time in the national championship in the past 16 Years. Both Taraba and Adamawa (both Men and women’s teams), qualified twice both at Division 2 and Zenith League played in Abuja and Lagos, while Yobe consistently maintained their division one spot and came 3rd at the National Championship in Lagos.
“How can any minister say there are no grassroots games in Nigeria or sponsors? Sunday Dare forgot that both Zenith Bank and Total Energies are big corporate sponsors of the game. In fact, the minister was at Eko Le Meridian Hotel where he himself unveil the Total Division 2 N150m sponsorship deal for five years. It was understood that when Tijjani Umar, who was the ex-NBBF president finished his eight years disastrous tenure and collected $2.2 million dollars from Econet of South Africa for a domestic Kwese League. Money that was not allegedly deposited in the NBBF account nor returned to the sponsor.
“For us in the North-East zone, such a betrayal from someone in the same zone can never be forgotten or forgiven as our youth were left in distress and at the mercy of Boko Haram to recruit them.
“The same hard work and dedication by the NBBF, under the leadership of Eng. Ahmadu Musa Kida led both the men’s and women’s national teams to become the best in Africa and qualified for the world cup at the same time (a first time record for Nigeria) and the Olympics.
“The women won back to back (3 times another record) for Nigeria. Our record and that of the President of NBBF speaks volume.
“We have a president in Kida who had to advance his own money when government money was not available to succeed. (Only half of his money was refunded to date.)
“We stand with the NBBF and the President Eng. Kida and Constitution and Statutes of the FIBA.
“We are calling on the President Muhammadu Buhari, who is a lover of sports to remove this minister without any delay as he is out to rubbish his achievements in sports and tarnish the image of Nigeria as we are already a laughing stoke in the world of sports by this stupid decision to pull out Nigeria for two years from international  basketball.”

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