The insistence of the Sunday Dare-led federal ministry of youth and sports development to circumvent the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) constitution and impose its preferred candidates onto the board of the federation has brought Nigeria and her basketball into a tight spot. This is evident from a letter from FIBA, the world governing body of basketball, dated November 10, 2021, and signed by its president, Hamane Niang and secretary general, Andreas Zaglklis, that it will not recognize any development in Nigeria’s basketball that does not comply with the NBBF constitution it (FIBA) has approved.
In the letter which was copied to major basketball administrators/stakeholders in the country, FIBA stated that it received three communications from the ministry between October 26, 2021 and November 9, 2021 in which the ministry informed FIBA that it had postponed the NBBF elective congress earlier scheduled for October 30, 2021; it has assumed the organizational responsibilities of the NBBF Premier Basketball League; and that it has assumed “duties for the participation of the Nigeria national team during the FIBA Basketball World Qualifiers.”
FIBA went ahead to warn that given that “under Article 9.7 of FIBA’s General Statutes, National Member Federations (NMF) must manage their affairs independently without the influence of third parties; …their officials are elected or appointed under a democratic process; and …Article 9.1.a. requires NMFs to ‘[m]aintain full control and governance of basketball in their country, including without limitation, control over their national competitions,’” it will “not recognize any competition or result that stems from an event not controlled by the NBBF.”
FIBA also stated that in its letter to the federal ministry of youth and sports development it stated that it expects that the NBBF celebrates its Electoral Congress not later than November 30, 2021.
It will be recalled that in a press statement by the federal ministry of youth and sports development dated September 30, 2021, the ministry held that “the NBBF has a constitution recognized by FIBA and this was confirmed again in a recent correspondence with the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) from FIBA. The ministry recognizes this and abides with it.
“This Constitution will form the basis of the next elections and the resolution of any conflict that may emanate from it. The constitution cannot be amended by non-congress members.
“The FIBA approved constitution clearly spells out the processes leading to an Elective Congress. This must be clearly followed through as expected by FIBA.
“The NOC and the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (FMYSD) can only supervise and not conduct the elections. The NOC and FMYSD will be observers. FIBA will also be invited as observers.
“Going by the FIBA recognized constitution, the following steps must be taken, leading to the elections: ‘the NBBF President has the power to call for a congress to draw up the electoral process; once the congress is convened, the Electoral Committee is appointed and approved by the congress; the Appeals Committee is also put in place with their appointment approved by the congress; the date and venue of the elective congress is picked and approved by the congress; FIBA,NOC and FMYSD are then officially communicated of congress decisions, and are all officially invited to observe the elections; and on election day, the NBBF President and his board will officially hand over proceedings to the Electoral Committee who then conducts the elections and swears in the winners immediately so as not to create a vacuum.’
“These are the procedures outlined in the NBBF constitution. The ministry will be properly guided along these procedures. Interested parties and stakeholders can look at the areas of the constitution over which they have disagreements and document same while the recognized constitution remains operational.”
Based on these, and in line with the provisions of the NBBF constitution, the federation held an Extra Ordinary Congress in Abuja on October 9, 2021. The congress, set up an Electoral and Appeals Committee and approved (by 24 ‘Yes’votes against two ‘No’votes) Benin City as venue for the elective congress also approved to take place on October 30, 2021.
To the shock of the NBBF and FIBA however, a press release from the ministry signed by the permanent secretary postponed the scheduled elective congress citing “leadership tussle.” Although the ministry has no authority to postpone the elections, the leadership of the NBBF caretaker committee abided by the ministry’s postponement directive to avoid being caught in altercations between the government of its country and FIBA which may lead to the suspension of Nigeria from participation in international basketball competitions.