Cancel this order on basketball competitions

A few weeks after the painful exit of the national football team, the Super Eagles, from this year’s World Cup which was to be held in Qatar, the country’s sporting scene received another blow with the announcement by the federal government of the immediate withdrawal of Nigeria from all international basketball competitions.

In a statement issued on May 12, the Minister for Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, said this followed the “endless crises which have plagued and almost crippled the development of basketball in the country. “.

The minister, who said he had obtained President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval for the latest action, added that the withdrawal should give the government the chance to revamp the sport from the ground up as well as revive the national leagues that have become moribund.

He said it would also enable the establishment of an Interim Management Committee (IMC) to oversee the management and development of the national basketball leagues in Nigeria and to further address other issues related to advancement. gambling in the country.

“The government intends to use this pause period to settle any contentious issues between stakeholders. The terms of reference (TOR) and the composition of the interim management committee will be announced in due course,” he said.

It is sad that the government has chosen this path instead of tackling the real problem facing Nigerian football over the past six years.

The crisis within the game is solely the result of the lingering leadership crisis within the Nigerian Basketball Federation, which surfaced in 2017, when the federation’s leadership race between then-president Tijjani Umar in office, and engineer Musa Kida led to factionalization. of the federation. The problem escalated following accusations that then-sports minister Solomon Dalung sided with one of the factions.

Hopes that the arrival of Mr Sunday Dare as the new minister would solve the problem were dashed as the federation continued on the same path with separate elections in Abuja and Benin producing two executives.

For many basketball fans and sports watchers around the country, it was a devastating blow which, unfortunately, this time came from the government and not from an outside body as has happened in the past. Many are worried why the government is making a decision at a time when the country is losing out in international sports and basketball seems to be the only major sport the country is shining on the international stage.

The men’s team, D’Tigers, and the women’s counterparts D’Tigress, are soaring on the international stage. The D’Tigers are currently ranked 22 in the world while the D’Tigress are due to play in the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup later this year. The men’s team are also set to start next year’s World Cup campaign in July with high hopes of qualifying for the final.

Concerned by this action, the players of the women’s team said they did not agree with the ban, because it would amount to “deleting all our future competitions, achievements and goals to elevate, inspire and make the Proud Nigeria!”

“We want Nigerian basketball to continue to grow and succeed at all levels – from local leagues, grassroots football and even on the international stage! We believe that all levels of Nigerian basketball can excel with the attention , solidarity and proper organization,’ the team said on its Twitter account.

Basketball’s world governing body, in a letter to its Nigerian counterpart, said the government’s decision would trigger more potential sanctions against the country.

In a letter signed by Jaime Lamboy, head of its legal affairs, the governing body said Nigeria’s withdrawal from its two competitions would affect the country’s participation in the qualifiers for the qualification process for the Paris 2024 Olympics as well as at FIBA ​​Afrobasket 2025.

We believe that this position of the government will ridicule Nigeria as a country incapable of resolving a simple matter of organizing credible elections in a sports association.

Therefore, it is important that the government rescinds this decision and takes appropriate steps to ensure that proper and credible elections are held for the federation.

It is sad that at a time when sport is becoming a real tool of international politics, Nigeria is inflicting a devastating injury on itself by throwing itself out of the arena. More importantly, this decision is going to affect the youngsters who are making a success out of the game and who would now be left to wander helplessly.

We therefore urge the government to rescind the decision for the benefit of the country and its burgeoning youth. We believe that there are other ways of approaching the problems and that the government must explore them.