* It violates NBBF and FIBA Statutes and Regulations and a deliberate usurpation of power.
The Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) has on Wednesday (today), denounced the setting up of an Interim Management Committee (IMC) by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (FMY&SD) to replace the NBBF in running the affairs of basketball in Nigeria. The denunciation, contained in a press release by the NBBF Media, came after a press statement on Monday, by the FMY&SD, announcing a 10-member Interim Management Committee to run the affairs of basketball in Nigeria.
The NBBF described the setting up of the IMC as unconstitutional as it is “not in line with the provisions of the NBBF approved statutes, which the Ministry vetted, accepted and a copy was domiciled with them.” The legitimate body to run the affairs of basketball in Nigeria, the NBBF said, is the legally elected Board of the NBBF, that was legitimately elected by its Congress, made up of the Certified Delegates of the NBBF, at the January 31st Elective Congress, which held in Benin, Edo State, in a free, fair, and transparent election with the firm approval of the Ministry.
The Federation described the idea of an IMC as “alien to the NBBF Statutes as approved by the same Ministry of Youths & Sports Development, the NOC, and FIBA, under which the affairs of the Federation are governed. It further violates FIBA Statutes and Regulations and is indeed a deliberate usurpation of power that has made Nigeria a laughingstock amongst the comity of basketball-playing nations.” It further stated that the move is not “to save basketball, but a selfish agenda to cripple the sport….”
The IMC, stated the NBBF, is not acceptable to NBBF because it reserves the right, as a properly elected body, in line with the 2019 NBBF Constitution, domiciled with FIBA, NOC, and the FMY&SD to implement the mandate entrusted onto it, by the Basketball stakeholders in Nigeria. The move, it added, is “counterproductive and an endless race within a circle that leads to nowhere. It is a blatant abuse of power and an archaic move to repress the Constitution of the NBBF, as ratified by congress, which is the highest decision-making organ of the Federation, as represented by all the States and relevant constituencies in Nigeria.”
The NBBF then called on the FMY&SD to reverse the “retrogressive decision and respect their own FMYSD Press Release of the 30th September 2021 clearly affirming and spelling out the position of the Nigerian Government on the NBBF Electoral process, and urge all aggrieved stakeholders to channel their grievances through the NBBF for resolution, as the adequate mechanism for conflict resolution is inbuilt in the 2019 approved NBBF constitution.
The full text of the September 30, 2021 Press Release by the FMY&SD on its position on the NBBF Electoral Process, which it has violated on every point, reads:
“With the benefit of correspondence and communication with the Federation of International Basketball Associations (FIBA) and an all-inclusive basketball stakeholders’ meeting at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Wednesday, September 29, 2021, as well as a careful review of the laws and regulations governing the relationships between Government, as represented by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development(FMYSD), the National Federations and their international bodies, the Ministry is hereby properly guided and issues these positions:
1. 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.
2. The Constitution cannot be amended by non-Congress members.
3. The FIBA-approved Constitution clearly spells out the processes leading to an Elective Congress. This must be clearly followed through as expected by FIBA.
4. The NOC and the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development can only supervise and not conduct the elections. The NOC and FMYSD will be observers. FIBA will also be invited as observers.
5. Going by the FIBA recognized Constitution, the following steps must be taken, leading to the elections:
a. The NBBF President has the power to call for a Congress to draw up the electoral process.
b. Once the Congress is convened, the Electoral Committee is appointed and approved by the congress.
c. The Appeals Committee is also put in place with their appointment approved by the congress.
d. The date and venue of the elective congress is picked and approved by the congress.
e. FIBA, NOC and FMYSD are then officially communicated of congress decisions and are all officially invited to observe the elections.
f. 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.
“This statement supersedes any other statement or position of the Ministry on the matter.”
It will be recalled that the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, had announced recently that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved his request for the withdrawal of Nigeria from all international basketball competitions for two years for what he described as “infighting” within the Nigeria basketball family. In an earlier story, Basketball Ban: Killing our Soft Power, The Politico Online wondered how, if the minister’s claim that President Buhari approved the withdrawal were true, the Chief of Staff to the President and Professor of International Relations, Ibrahim Gambari, would allow such proposal to even get to the president given its dire consequences on Nigeria’s soft power in sports diplomacy.
Following this suspension and FIBA’s reaction, Nigeria Risks FIBA Sanctions as Nigeria is due to participate in FIBA 2023 Basketball World Cup Qualifiers (FBWC23 Qualifiers) and FIBA 2022 Women’s Basketball World Cup (FWBWC22).
FIBA, which recognizes only the NBBF as the legitimate authority to manage basketball in Nigeria stated clearly, that “any withdrawal of Nigeria from the abovementioned competitions will trigger potential disciplinary sanctions as per the FIBA Internal Regulations. Furthermore, if the absence of Nigeria from international competitions for the next two years materializes, the consequences may spread out well past such two-year period. For example, please note that the withdrawal from FBWC23 Qualifiers is also a withdrawal from the Paris 2024 Olympic qualification process. Similarly, depending on third-party results, the same situation could apply with respect to FIBA Afrobasket 2025.”