Stakeholders fear FIBA could ban Nigeria as players protest in Abuja | The Guardian Nigeria News
• Ogunade insists that the January 31 elections in Benin will be held
With less than two weeks to go until the January 31 deadline given to the Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF) to hold its board elections by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) or face possible sanctions, stakeholders fear that the current events could lead to the country being banned by the global body.
The NBBF election has been set for January 31, 2022 by an electoral body constituted by the federation, but there are mixed signals from some stakeholders that the federation could be heading towards an impasse.
Yesterday, some basketball players staged a protest at the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development over the leadership crisis rocking the NBBF.
The players, who marched peacefully with their former representative on the NBBF board led by Musa Kida and NBA star Ejike Ugboaja, said they were disturbed by the signals they were seeing from the ministry and some other items.
Speaking to reporters after meeting officials from the Ministry of Sports, Ugboaja alleged that the ministry was trying to sack Kida as NBBF president, saying the players had long rejected him.
“The Ministry of Sports does not want to organize elections; all they want is to impose on us someone we don’t want. They are afraid of FIBA Africa and FIBA International as claimed by Sports Minister Sunday Dare.
“We, as players who have participated in several World Cup tournaments and who have represented Nigeria for the past 12 years, can boldly say that FIBA is not Nigeria and we are not we are not afraid of their prohibition.
“As things stand, if they impose a president on us, we’re going to ban ourselves from playing basketball.
“He (Musa Kida) will no longer lead us. We need Musa Kida to apologize to us (the players) for calling us thugs and thugs.
“We shouted at the minister and if he refuses to listen to us, we will make a big statement to Nigerians. I’m emotional right now because they take us for granted,” Ugboaja said.
Also speaking at the protest march, newly elected players representative Stanely Gumut also complained about the role played by the ministry.
“The ministry managed to waste our time, everything they tell us now should have been done last year. They kept us for so long in the name of reconciliation or to try to fix things; but to come back now to tell us that they want to leave everything in our hands, it’s a shame.
“It’s like a coup, throwing someone on us at the last minute…it’s unfortunate and very painful. If you say ban, the domestic league has been banned for four years, which is like a ban.
Reacting to the protest, former NBBF vice president Babs Ogunade said the players had the right to protest under the provisions of the Nigerian constitution. He noted, however, that the Abuja protest should not be labeled as a protest by Nigerian basketball players as other states in Nigeria also play basketball.
“I don’t understand what the players’ protest is all about. It’s not just in Abuja that we play basketball; other states in the federation also have a say in Nigerian basketball.
“Last week, the ministry announced 31 January 2022 for the NBBF elections which were to be held in Abuja; but Congress, which is legally authorized to set election locations, has declared that the elections should be held in Benin, in Edo State.
“On election day, if something negative happens, we will all suffer the consequences. Everyone has the right to protest,” he said.