NBBF elec­tions: Set­ting the records straight

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS - By Ishaku Kigbu

Since the out­come of the elec­tions that took place in Kano and Abuja pro­duc­ing Ti­j­jani Umar and Ah­madu Musa Kida on June 12 and 13 re­spec­tively, I have read and lis­tened to nar­ra­tives re­gard­ing that with ut­most in­ter­est. For rea­sons of time and space, my main pre­oc­cu­pa­tion is to at­tempt to set the records straight from an in­sider’s van­tage po­si­tion whilst seek­ing to high­light the cur­rent re­al­i­ties based on the let­ter sent to both the Musa Kida and Ti­j­jani Umar camps from the Fed­er­a­tion of In­ter­na­tional Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (FIBA) on July 26 in view of de­lib­er­ate and con­certed ef­fort to dis­tort them. The fiba let­ter has put the is­sues on ground in the right and un­am­biguos per­spec­tive, charted the way for­ward while also mak­ing it clear to the par­ties in dis­pute as well as other vested in­ter­ests fu­el­ing the dis­pute, the con­se­quences of their ac­tions or in­ac­tions should that scut­tle the devel­op­ment of bas­ket­ball in Nige­ria.

As it stands, both the Musa Kida camp and that of Ti­j­jani Umar are lay­ing claim to the le­git­i­macy of their elec­tions and lead­er­ship of the fed­er­a­tion. While that of Umar is hing­ing its strength on FIBA Gen­eral Statutes based on Ar­ti­cle 9.10 which gives power to a na­tional mem­ber fed­er­a­tion to main­tain full con­trol and gov­er­nance of bas­ket­ball in their coun­try, armed with a po­tent tool, the fed­er­a­tion’s Con­sti­tu­tion that was rat­i­fied by its Congress which in any demo­cratic sport’s or­ga­ni­za­tion is Supreme, in ad­di­tion to other ver­i­ta­ble tools of good gov­er­nance, the Musa Kida group re­lies prin­ci­pally on the per­sonal and in­sti­tu­tional sup­port of the Min­istry of Sports headed by its Min­is­ter, Solomon Dalung. An­other vested in­ter­est is the Nige­ria Olympic Com­mit­tee; a body that ought to be au­tonomous but cur­rently an ap­pendage of the Min­istry of Sports, thanks to the out­right com­pro­mise of its Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral, Tunde Popoola who has over time made a name for him­self in that en­deavor.

So, based on sev­eral cor­re­spon­dence shared be­tween FIBA and both camps, the in­ter­na­tional body over­see­ing bas­ket­ball the world over made its po­si­tion clear and pointed. But some in­ter­ests have been twist­ing the facts con­tained in the FIBA let­ter sent by its Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, Pa­trick Bau­mann to Musa Kida and Ti­j­jani Umar and copy­ing Habu Gumel, NOC Pres­i­dent, Ha­mane Niang, FIBA Africa Pres­i­dent and Alphonse Bile, FIBA Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Africa.

First, FIBA ac­knowl­edged the fact that there were numer­ous con­flict­ing re­ports and in­nu­en­does re­gard­ing the sit­u­a­tion sur­round­ing the Nige­ria Bas­ket­ball Fed­er­a­tion (NBBF) elec­tions, and based on that is not sat­is­fied with the out­come of both elec­tions. Ac­cord­ing to FIBA, be­cause none of the elec­tions was car­ried out in full com­pli­ance with the FIBA Gen­eral Statutes and pur­suant to Ar­ti­cle 9.10 of its statutes, it can­not recog­nise ei­ther the Musa Kida or Ti­j­jani Umar elec­tion.

FIBA also said it has noted its com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the Nige­ria Olympic Com­mit­tee Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, Tunde Popoola, whom I gath­ered acted on his own without the knowl­edge of the NOC Ex­ec­u­tive or its Pres­i­dent, Habu Gumel to write FIBA rec­og­niz­ing the elec­tion held on June 13 pro­duc­ing Musa Kida. It must be men­tioned here that up till the mo­ment of writ­ing this,nei­ther the NOC Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee nor Board has met to de­lib­er­ate on the Sports Fed­er­a­tions Elec­tions or its out­come. It is there­fore rather strange and curious that its scribe would go ahead and ini­ti­ate any cor­re­spon­dence on a mat­ter as im­por­tant as the fed­er­a­tion elec­tions without the knowl­edge of the mem­ber­ship of its rel­e­vant or­gans. That the Nige­rian Min­istry of Sport recog­nised the June 13 elec­tion is un­der­stand­able since it played the roles of judge, jury and hang­man in the over­whelm­ingly dis­cred­ited process.

My dilemma is that FIBA has stated in its let­ter that be­cause the board elected on June 13 ap­pears to be favourably recog­nised as the gov­ern­ing body by im­por­tant sport­ing au­thor­i­ties in Nige­ria, based on the cor­re­spon­dence be­tween it and the NOC scribe and Min­istry of Sports, re­sult­ing in FIBA opt­ing to ‘com­mu­ni­cate’ for of­fi­cial cor­re­spon­dence for the time be­ing with the Musa Kida fac­tion, a lot of stake­hold­ers are de­lib­er­ately given the im­pres­sion that the Musa Kida board is the recog­nised body in­ter­na­tion­ally. It is com­plete false­hood. Those spread­ing th­ese tis­sues of lies are only mis­chievous and eco­nom­i­cal with the truth be­cause FIBA went a step fur­ther to clar­ify that in the same let­ter: “How­ever, as men­tioned above, the al­le­ga­tions of state in­ter­ven­tion and non-demo­cratic elec­tions at the NBBF con­tinue to be stud­ied by FIBA. There­fore, while this let­ter clar­i­fies the line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween FIBA and its mem­bers and di­vi­sions on the other hand, and NBBF on the other, it shall NOT BE UN­DER­STOOD AS RECOG­NI­TION BY FIBA OF THE MAN­AGE­MENT ELECTED ON 13 JUNE, 2017.”

Once FIBA was able to es­tab­lish this fact that has been un­for­tu­nately twisted by the Kida fac­tion for self­ish in­ter­ests, the in­ter­na­tional body not new to an­tics of mis­chief mak­ers went fur­ther to warn that only two op­tions are open for Nige­ria to es­cape sanc­tions if the dis­pute is not re­solved be­tween now and Novem­ber 30. It warned that: “FIBA here­with in­structs the NBBF to re­solve this cur­rent dis­pute in­ter­nally, whether through new elec­tions or (prefer­ably) through an am­i­ca­ble so­lu­tion com­ply­ing with FIBA Gen­eral Statutes, be­fore 30 Novem­ber 2017. In the event that a so­lu­tion as clearly de­fined is not reached, the NBBF will be sub­ject to the pos­si­bil­ity of sanc­tions, in­clud­ing without lim­i­ta­tion a sus­pen­sion of its mem­ber­ship with FIBA. In such case, re­gard­less of any sanc­tions, FIBA will ap­point a task force that will take any ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sure(s) in the in­ter­est of bas­ket­ball in Nige­ria.”

In con­clu­sion, now that the facts of the let­ter from FIBA have been laid bare; all eyes are on Nige­ria, cur­rently a ma­ture na­tion in terms of bas­ket­ball devel­op­ment - to do the right thing. I be­lieve the body lan­guage of es­pe­cially the Sports Min­istry is far from giv­ing con­fi­dence as to a gen­er­ally ac­cept­able out­come to both par­ties in set­tling the dis­pute. The best op­tion in my opinion is to al­low democ­racy to take its full course by way of an­other cred­i­ble elec­tion to be con­tested by both par­ties and to be mid­wifed and su­per­vised by FIBA in full com­pli­ance with its rel­e­vant laws, oth­er­wise I en­vis­age the Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion for Sports (CAS) even­tu­ally hav­ing to help out with nec­es­sary in­ter­pre­ta­tions to put the mat­ter to rest. What­ever hap­pens ul­ti­mately, the over­all in­ter­est of the play­ers, of­fi­cials and all bas­ket­ball stake­hold­ers should be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion.

Kigbu wrote this piece from Abuja.

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