Enough love for Nigerian basketball

Following the seemingly intractable problems in preparing for the 2021 Nigerian Basketball Federation elections, Youth and Sports Development Minister Sunday Dare called for another emergency meeting with leaders of both factions who start to ransom the game.

The meeting scheduled for Monday October 18 in Abuja follows on from the one held before the extraordinary congress of the Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF) on Saturday October 2 in Abuja. Monday’s reconciliation meeting will aim for peace between the two gladiators, engineer Musa Ahmadu-Kida and Tijani Umar, both former presidents of the NBBF.

Except for those who have not been privy to Nigerian basketball events since 2017, it is an open secret that the festering leadership struggle between the two very important basketball players in the country is escalating. day by day.

In short, the confrontation between Umar and Kida began in 2017 after the two emerged as faction chairmen of the NBBF following the faction elections held in Kano and Abuja on June 13, 2017. After problems no Resolved, one of the factions held its election in the ancient town of Kano and then-incumbent Umar was dismissed unopposed.

Meanwhile, another group backed by former sports minister, lawyer Solomon Dalung, staged another election at the Grand Ibro Hotel where Rivers State Basketball Association president Kida was elected president.

Based on the events leading up to the election, it was no surprise that Dalung immediately endorsed Kida as president of the NBBF. Obviously, the minister’s position did not please Umar who believed he was already laying a solid foundation for basketball in Nigeria. Additionally, he felt offended by the way he was pushed aside by his opponent.

In fairness to Umar, Dalung had failed to maintain neutrality in the electoral process. His support for Kida was so blatant that even a blind man could see. Umar and his group protested vehemently for a long time, but the government, represented by Dalung, had the final say as FIBA ​​eventually took Kida’s tactical side in the struggle for leadership.

A refined gentleman that he is, Umar rose to life as one of the most powerful permanent secretaries in the country. For those who never knew it, Umar is the permanent secretary of the State House (Presidential Villa). Yes, you heard me right, in the Presidential Villa. In fact, someone told me that they approved of President Muhammadu Buhari’s travel expenses.

So why Umar settled in the Presidential Villa, Kida presided over Nigerian basketball as president. Sadly, while the senior national teams have made appreciable strides under his reign as NBBF president, the national league has grown moribund. And as of this writing, only the senior national teams are active.

Interestingly, those who thought Umar had given up on his ambition to lead the NBBF again were wrong as he has bounced back in force to take revenge on Kida now that another sports federation election is imminent. Ahead of the elective congress, curiously moved from Abuja to Benin, the two camps are at war.

Among the contentious issues is the constitution that would guide the conduct of the election. While the Kida camp insists on the 2019 NBBF constitution as amended, the Umar camp has since made holes and is going into war. They believe he is manipulative and designed to favor the incumbent president of the FBNB.

It is in this context that the atmosphere for the elections to be held in Benin on October 30 is fully charged. This necessitated the minister’s call for another emergency meeting with the two warring friends. Yes, the two rivals have come a long way. Aside from the fact that they’re both Northerners, they’ve played college basketball together. They are indeed brothers in the African context.

Now my frank opinion, which I think will offend both parties, is that the only way out of the deadlock is for Kida and Umar to sacrifice their personal ambitions and pride for the sake of the game. It is clear that both are now on an ego journey and I very much doubt that one of them will agree to resign for the other. However, they should consider leaving the stage for one of their “boys” to step up to the lead role.

What I am sure of is that if Kida remains president of the NBBF, there will be no peace in Nigerian basketball because Umar’s camp will feel cheated and humiliated. They would find a way to make life unpleasant for the leaders. Invariably, Umar, who has yet to declare his presidential ambition, would suffer the same fate if he managed to eliminate Kida.

Therefore, as they meet Dare on Monday, Kida and Umar must put the sport they say they love so much before their personal interests. It will not be too much for them to agree to step down honorably to have someone else run the FBNB. Anything less than this will only amplify the closet love that both sides show for Nigerian basketball.