THE Federal Government has reversed its decision to ban the country’s basketball teams from international competitions for two years.
The reversal, which was announced today, has however come late after the ban, announced in May, caused serious damage.
Due to the self-ban, which was instigated by the sports ministry and was purportedly done because of crisis in the Nigeria Basketball Federation, the women’s national team D’Tigress lost their place at the FIBA Women’s World Cup in spite of having qualified.
The Federation of International Basketball Federations acted upon Nigeria’s withdrawal and on June 2 replaced D’Tigress with Mali for the global tournament taking place in Australia in September.
In a statement announcing the reversal of the ill-advised ban, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development,
Ismaila Abubakar, explained why the government made the decision.
“Following the Presidential approval withdrawing Nigeria from International Basketball competitions for two years, a number of significant developments have occurred, the most significant being the following: 1. Intervention by concerned stakeholders, former Nigerian international basketball players and well meaning Nigerians to seek for solutions to the issues that triggered the decision,” the statement signed by Abubakar and dated today begins.
“2. The Video conference meeting between the top hierarchy of FIBA and the Minister of Youth and Sports which produced common understanding in certain general areas, concluding with a commitment by both FIBA and Nigeria to explore and collaborate on enhancing relationships, development of basketball and reaffirming mutual respect for the laws and constitution of Nigeria as a sovereign state, and also FIBA .”
The statement suggests that the government, fronted by the sports ministry, is now dealing with the Musa Kida board of the NBBF which has FIBA backing, rather than the Mark Igoche faction that formed a parallel board and prolonged the crisis.
“A letter of Appeal from the NBBF Board signed by Musa Kida and dated June 17th, 2022 was addressed to the Hon. Minister of Youth and Sports Development Chief Sunday Dare,” the statement continues.
“The letter of Appeal among other things apologised to Mr. President and the Minister over the embarrassment the developments around basketball and the conduct of some stakeholders has brought upon Nigeria.
“The letter appealed to the Minister to use his good offices to approach President Buhari for the reversal of the two-year withdrawal of Nigeria from International basketball competitions.
“The Appeal letter also critically gave some key undertakings: to immediately set in motion the process of statutes 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 basketball family at home and abroad, and a commitment to work with the Ministry in the governance and development of basketball among other things. Above all, the compliance of NBBF to the issues at stake made this possible.
“Flowing from the above and upon a review, the FMYSD approached Mr. President and placed these developments before him. 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 basketball 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 basketball immediately.
“In securing this approval, of note is the caution that the laws of Nigeria cannot be subjugated to any other law, and every Nigerian entity must respect Nigerian laws and authority governing various sectors.
“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 in representing Nigeria.
“Secondly, that all those that lead government organisations ,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.
“The President has directed the Ministry of Youth and Sports 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.”
With this reversal, although D’Tigress have unfortunately lost their World Cup spot, Nigeria can now feature in the men’s and women’s AfroBasket and seek to qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.