…as warring factions prepare for parallel polls
Nigerian basketball players are hoping that the Basketball Federation of Nigeria board election scheduled for Monday (today) will usher in a new dawn for the sport in the next four years.
However, hope for a ‘new dawn’ seems remote as there are strong indications that parallel elections could be held in Abuja and Benin City, the capital of Edo State, today after the Ministry of Sports and members of the federation’s former board of directors failed to agree on a venue for the election.
The Ministry of Sports, it has been learned, has chosen Abuja as the polling place, while the congress of the former NBBF board led by Musa Ahmadu-Kida, who is also seeking a second term, has chose Benin City as their preferred location.
But a sports ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they never decided on a venue for the disputed poll.
“They (NBBF) have an election committee, they will decide how and where they will conduct their election,” he said.
World body FIBA had given the federation last January 31 the option to proceed with their election or risk a ban after Ahmadu-Kida’s term ends in May 2021. directive on the indefinite suspension of the elective congress of the NBBF, after hundreds of placard-carrying demonstrators, wearing shirts with the inscription “Kida must leave”, protested in Abuja against the re-election of Ahmadu-Kida as president of the federation, a few days before the ballot scuttled.
However, mixed signals indicate that the federation could once again be heading for a stalemate.
Last week, some basketball players staged a protest at the Sports Ministry over the leadership crisis.
A presidential candidate and owner of Mark Mentors, Mark Igoche, said SUNDAY PUNCH in an interview that he would boycott the Benin City elections, insisting that these were not the legitimate polls to usher in a new board in the federation.
“Obviously, I’m not going to Benin because I don’t believe in it and it doesn’t suit me.
But FIBA Zone 3 President Colonel Sam Ahmedu (Retired), a former board member of NBBF led by Ahmadu-Kida, says Benin City’s election has FIBA’s backing .
“Igoche is not a presidential candidate. He didn’t choose an election committee form for the job, so what is he boycotting? You only boycott what you signed up for.
“There will be no elections in Abuja; whoever goes there is wasting their time. The congress will be held in Benin.
Igoche also criticized the NBBF constitution amended by Ahmadu-Kida’s board.
Igoche added: “The problem we have with the NBBF is this document which they call the constitution, this document which Ahmadu-Kida single-handedly amended without the vote of the board members and brought it at FIBA. We don’t know which FIBA, because you can’t tell me that FIBA will rectify this kind of document.
Our correspondent learned that delegates were already in both cities, with 21 Presidents/State Representatives in Abuja at the time of this report, while a large number of voters were also in Benin City, the capital of Edo State.
The players have endured a torrid time over the past four years after Ahmadu-Kida’s predecessor, Tijjani Umar, took Ahmadu-Kida to court over the legitimacy of his position as federation president.
Due to the crisis, the men’s basketball league had been suspended for three years, with a large number of players abandoning the sport to earn a living elsewhere.
D’Tigers and Rivers Hoopers center Victor Koko pleaded with the contenders to take the election results in good faith for the future of the sport and the players, whose only livelihood is basketball.
“If this crisis continues, it will affect the players all the more as the administrators do not earn a living from basketball, it is us the players who do and it is us who suffer from the fight,” Koko said. The punch.
“I hope they can put aside their differences and come together to develop the game, so that we can have a better future.
“We don’t want to relive the suffering of the last four years. So much talent was wasted just because of one position,” Koko added.
Another player, who spoke to The punch on condition of anonymity, said: “Over the past four years, we have had factions. When the big shots fight, the players always suffer. I hope that wherever the elections are held, they can reach an agreement, otherwise, we will have four more years of lamentations.
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