Ex-basketball and current players stormed the Sports Minister’s office today and threatened to reveal the rot between the former board of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF lead by Musa Kida and the Sunday Dare-led Ministry of Youth and Sports Development should the latter force the federation election dubbed ‘fixed’ on the players.
Former players’ representative at the dissolved Kida-led NBBF board, Ejike Ogbuaja said today in Abuja that it is very unfortunate the way basketball is going on in Nigeria.
“I will say that they (Ministry of Sports and Minister, Sunday Dare) are trying to force us, we players, to do what we don’t want in the sense that the former board’s tenure has elapsed and they don’t want to leave office neither do they want to conduct credible election for new members to take over. Instead, they (in connivance with the ministry and Minister Sunday Dare) want to select members into the NBBF board. What they want to do is push someone to us that we don’t want.
• Some of the basketball players today at the Sports Ministry
“They are scared of Fiba, Fiba Africa and Fiba World, that is the body language from the Ministry; especially the Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare.
“As players, we have played so many Fiba World Championships and Nations Cup. We have represented Nigeria more than 12 years. Fiba is not Nigeria, and we are not scared of being banned by Fiba. So, as we stand today, if they force a president on us, we are going to ban ourself from playing basketball. He (the ministry and Minister’s candidate) will not lead us any more”, Ejike Ogbuaja said.
He stated that the players demand unreserved apology from the former NBBF president, Musa Kida for publicly calling them thugs and hoodlums. “We need an apology from the president that called us thugs and hoodlums. That’s so painful after one has played representing his fatherland for over 12 years spending over 2 hours on the floor. We have suffered enough for this our country. We are crying to the minister, and if he refuses to listen to us, we are going to make a big statement to Nigerians in sports in general. I’m very emotional right now just because they are taking us for granted”.
The players’ representative elect, Stanley Gumut, who was very emotional about the whole event going on because the ministry have wasted their time, said, “if they had listened to us sine last year, and do what is needful, we may have forgotten all the trauma and pains and forge ahead.
“Having kept us this long in the name of reconciliation and trying to fix things, is not the best way of settling dispute. We are waiting for what the minister is going to come up with, and we are waiting. For us now, it’s more like a coup being plotted against us the players, that are the major stakeholders in the game of basketball.
“Its very unfortunate, painful, unheard-of. If we are talking about ban, our domestic league has been on ban in the last four years, no action, we have not played any game. It’s as good as we are on ban. What are we talking about ban for? If our efforts have been focused on the domestic league all this while, it would have been good for us. He (Kida) was only fronting the national teams and that’s all he did in the four years he was in office. National team comes once in two years, either the Olympics or Nations Cup and that’s all we are worried about. We don’t know what the position of the ministry will be, but whatever position that they are going to come out with that is not favourable to the players, they have failed us, completely failed us, because we hope on them for so long to resolve the issue and make things work in the good and interest of basketball players.
“We have all along taken and regarded the minister as our father. For him to come at this eleventh hour to tell us to sort out things ourselves, is disappointing”.
He however pointed out that the players will not make comment on what next to do, “until we are in possession of the letter the permanent secretary promised to issue on the position of the ministry in the NBBF crisis.
“We suspect foul play from the minister right from the point he said he was going to institute a reconciliation Committee. The Committee members never met with us nor call the players to ask what our problems are or take questionnaires to the stakeholders; what are the issues on ground and how do we resolve it. We only heard on the media that the Committee has submitted report. Till moment, we have not seen the report of the reconciliation Committee and next we heard was an election in Abuja and we have not come to terms with the election and boom he said we have to go to Benin. The whole drama that’s playing is rather unfortunate that our trusted men in authority are acting the way they chose”.
Alhassan Joseph, fondly called ‘Embargo’, who a captain of one of the leading teams in the country said, “We are aggrieved. Pity the Minister is more afraid of Fiba. 21 days notice of election is what the rules say. We have not been notified, and next we read in the media was election. The ministry and Minister need to have a rethink”.
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