By Victor Okoye
Charles Offiong, the Chairman, Nigerian Sports Advanced Group (NSAG), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has called for the involvement of ex-internationals in the upcoming Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) elections.
Offiong told newsmen on Monday in Abuja that fairness should be the key word in order to get all stakeholders in the sport involved.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that NBBF elections is scheduled to hold after the Olympic Games which is billed for July 23 to Aug. 8 in Tokyo, Japan.
Offiong said it had become imperative to raise awareness about the irregularities being perpetrated by the federation’s Caretaker Committee ahead of the upcoming elections.
“Our (NSAG) responsibility is to raise the alarm whenever things are no longer going well with our sports, mostly from the administrative angle, to enable us find a solution.
“This is because sports in Nigeria have proven to be a unifying factor for the relative peace we enjoy in this country, notwithstanding the recent insecurity challenges in the country.
“Therefore, it is part of our responsibility to let the public, and especially the federal government, basketball stakeholders and enthusiasts, be aware of the activities of those at the helm of affairs in the NBBF and its effect on the game in the country,” he said.
Offiong pointed out that the game of basketball was gradually fizzling out in the country because of the lack of foresight and good initiative on the part of those managing it at the moment.
“Let’s take for instance; the present crop of players going to Olympics, it is unfortunate to note that no single home-based player could make both the D’Tigers and the D’Tigress teams.
“Also, there are unnecessary interferences and connivance by actors in the administration, to use draconian guidelines to stop former international basketball players both in Nigeria and abroad from contesting the position of the President in the upcoming elections.
“These are individuals who are eager to give back to the nation and are fully prepared to contribute their quota by joining the leadership cadre so that they move the game from the present position to where it ought to be.
“We therefore kick against such moves by these actors and warn that if this is not checked by government, it will further sink the game in the country,” he said.
The NSAG chairman noted that the move by the Musa Kida-led NBBF board to place a ban on ex-internationals from contesting the federation’s presidency was a move against the growth of the game.
“This must be condemned in its entirety.”
He was of the opinion that certain former basketball players could be the messiah the sport in Nigeria was waiting for.
Offiong listed such ex-players to include Masai Ujiri (President, Toronto Raptors), Isa Umar (NBBF board member) and Ejike Ugboaja (Players representative at the NBBF).
“If Nigeria can have a foreign coach and foreign-based players, why not allow Nigerians in diaspora who have experience in the game of basketball and administration to be involved in the board by contesting for the NBBF Presidency?
“This is in order to take the game to the appropriate level.
“We are of the opinion that any Nigerian, home or abroad, who wishes to contest for any position in the upcoming basketball federation elections should be allowed once the statutes are not against it.
“We therefore call on the Minister of Youth and Sports Development to set up the Electoral Committee accordingly.
“While doing this, the interests of Nigerians both home and abroad should be included and taken care of, because anything short of this will be resisted by all,” he said.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)