Federal Government has reversed the ban on international basketball participation it placed on the country’s national teams, D’Tigers and D’Tigress barely a month after the decision.
This is also as the male and female national teams are now scrambling to return to international competitions which they had either pulled out from, or removed by the sport’s world governing body, the Federations of International Basketball (FIBA).
Following decision by the Federal Government in April, thus year, to withdraw the country from all international basketball competitions for the next two years, FIBA confirmed in early June that Nigeria will not participate in the 2022 Women’s Basketball World Cup billed for Sydney, Australia, later in the year, for which the female national team, D’Tigress had already qualified to participate in.
It would be recalled that leadership tussle within the Nigerian Basket Ball Federation (NBBF) had informed the decision announced by Minister of Sports, Mr Sunday Dare, who said President Muhammadu Buhari had agreed to withdraw Nigeria from competing in international basketball tournaments for the next two years.
The minister also said the withdrawal is part of efforts by the government ‘to revamp the sport from the grassroots.’
The internal crisis rocking the NBBF began in 2017 after two parallel elective congresses held in Kano and Abuja produced fractional boards headed by Tijani Umar and Musa Kida.
However, in response to the decision by the Nigerian government, FIBA removed Nigeria from its World Cup tournament.
FIBA subsequently replaced Nigeria with Mali which finished runners-up in the qualifying tournament.
D’Tigress had back in February, this year, qualified for the 2022 FIBA Women World Cup to be hosted later in the year after a 67-65 point win over world number five, France.
“FIBA was informed about the decision of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to withdraw the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) from all international basketball competitions and activities for a period of two years.
“In subsequent communications with the NBBF, and despite FIBA’s request, it has become clear that against the circumstances created by the government’s decision, the NBBF is unable to confirm its participation in the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022.
“Given the multiple strict deadlines that cannot be postponed in order to ensure the successful staging of a major international event (visa procedures, schedules, ticket sales, accommodations, friendly games, preliminary rosters, flight tickets, accreditations, etc.) and to protect the integrity of the competition, the FIBA Executive Committee has decided as follows.
“Nigeria’s withdrawal from the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 is confirmed.
“Mali, as the next ranked team from Group B of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, is invited to participate in the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022.
“FIBA will announce whether there will be any other decisions related to the NBBF’s participation in other FIBA competitions and any potential disciplinary measures in due course,” the FIBA statement in June had read.
However, announcing the reversal of the ban, Thursday, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Ismaila Abubakar, at a news briefing in Abuja on Thursday, said the decision was based on a letter of appeal received from the NBBF.
The NBBF, in the letter, promised to resolve the issues which precipitated government’s decision to withdraw the country’s basketball teams from international competitions, including the World Cup.
“The appeal letter also critically gave some key undertakings – to immediately set in motion the process of status review or constitutional amendments from stakeholders as collated by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
“To set up a high-powered team to reconcile all contending parties in the basketball family at home and abroad, and a commitment to work with the Ministry in the governance and development of basketball among other things,” Abubakar said.
Meanwhile, reacting to the ban reversal, the national men’s team, D’Tigers tweeted, Thursday, that it is now‘scrambling’ to see if it can still participate in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers holding next week in Rwanda, while also expressing hope that the female team, D’Tigress, would be reinstated by FIBA in the World Cup.
“It took our voices and community to make this change…Its should never have reached this point,” D’Tigers said in a tweet.
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the country’s withdrawal from all international basketball tournaments for the next two years and the consequent sanction slammed on the nation’s contingent to the FIBA World Cup, Federal Government has already inaugurated an Interim Management Committee (IMC) on Saturday, June 4, at the Indoor Sports Hall, Package ‘B’ Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
The IMC is expected to manage the affairs of the federation for the period of the withdrawal.
Also, the iinterim committee is expected to commence a youth basketball league and domestic league to help in nurturing home based players so that we will have a reservoir of players that will represent the country in international events after the period of withdrawal.
This will set the ball rolling by creating opportunities for our local players to have regular competitions at home thereby elevating their status to getting scholarship to universities all over the world, and clubs to play and better their living standards which will also have positive effects on the economy of Nigeria.
The Interim Management Committee (IMC) members to be inaugurated by government on Saturday, are as follows: Dr. Henry Nzekwu as Chairman, Udon Ubon Humapwa – Member, Frank Jituboh – Member, Zenith Bank Representative – Member, Prof. Adamu Ahmed – Member, Peter Nelson – Member, Grp. Captain Rahinatu Garba – Member, Aderemi Adewunmi – Member, Oluchi Nzekwe – Member, and Seni Adio (SAN) – Member.