Nigeria Basketball Players Protest :NBBF President Igoche Mark Calls for Restraint
By Ben Nwachukwu, Abuja
The President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Mr. Igoche Mark has called on Basketball players group, under the aegis of Concerned Progressive Ballers (CPB), to observe maximum restraint, and call off their plan to hit the streets of Abuja this week.
Mark said, the NBBF is reliably informed by impeccable sources, that the players have vowed to stage a massive protest in Abuja, to bring to the attention of the Federal Government, and residents of Abuja, what they described as, “clandestine moves” by Youth and Sports Development Minister, Sunday Dare, to foist Musa Kida on them as NBBF President.
In a swift reaction to the information, the NBBF in statement signed by its President, Mark advised the agitated players to exercise restrain, in digesting the rumours, concerning the Sports Ministry stance in the NBBF leadership impasse, which has now gone viral.
He described the report of the ministry of Youth and Sports’ preference for Kida as fake news, while noting that he remains the authentic NBBF President, as he was overwhelmingly voted into office, on January 31, 2022 in Abuja, by all key Stakeholders of Nigerian Basketball, in compliance with the guidelines, made available by the ministry.
“I want to plead with our players planning the protest or have showdown with the ministry over the rumour or perceived bias in handling the post election crisis in the NBBF, to please exercise restraint and stay calm. As I speak, there has been no official communication from the ministry nullifying the election held at MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja where me and other members of our Board were elected. We followed the ministry’s guidelines just like other federations boards that emerged in September, 2021. The report that the Sports Minister has nullified the elections of January 31, 2022 in Abuja is therefore baseless, a figment of the imagination of those peddling the rumour, or simply put, fake news.”
Mark stressed that the NBBF Board with him at the helm of affairs, will always prioritize the welfare, of players, home and abroad, and he has consequently directed the Players Rep in the Board, Stanely Gumut to meet with the aggrieved players on Monday with a view to listening to their grievances, offer them the true position of things, and ultimately pacify the aggitated ones among them.
In another development, the Mark-led NBBF Board has concluded plans to organise a 2-day All Inclusive National Dialogue on Basketball Development in Nigeria that will herald a road map for the sustenance of the recent gains and progress made, while looking at a better future for the sport; with short and long term goals.
The NBBF Board equally regrets the roles played by some Nigerians to ensure that Rivers Hoopers were prevented from participating in the ongoing 2nd edition of the Basketball African League (BAL).
The Board took a swipe at FIBA saying that the excuse given by continental body was at variance with FIBA that allowed the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development lead the D’Tigress to Serbia, where the team picked the World Cup ticket.
Rising from an emergency board meeting in Abuja, Mark and his Exco members again congratulated the senior national Women’s Basketball Team, D’Tigress for doing Nigeria proud, by braving the odds in Belgrade, Serbia to qualify for the FIBA Women’s World Cup, in Australia, later in the year.
The Board also promised the team a better welfare package, adding that their unpaid bonuses and allowances will be cleared once the NBBF Secretary furnishes the Board with the details of the team’s outstanding entitlements.
The Board reassured all domestic players that a road map with dates will soon be announced for the commencement of the various leagues, once all grey areas are sorted out with the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
The Board enjoined all basketball stakeholders in the country to remain united and continue to join forces with the President, Igoche Mark, and the New Face of the Basketball Movement, to drive the process of developing, promoting and propagating the game.
The NBBF Board thanked the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (FMYSD), for their stance to ward-off attempts by a few disgruntled individuals who wanted to use FIBA as bait to hijack the NBBF leadership.
The Board also appreciated and saluted the steadfastness of critical stakeholders including Players (local and foreign), Coaches, Referees, Commissioners and Administrators who have continually lent their voices against the mal-administration the domestic component of the game grappled with in the past, and their firm resolve to work as a team, and assiduously, towards breathing a new lease of life into Nigerian basketball space.
The emergency board meeting was attended by Igoche Mark (President);
Osita Nwachukwu (Vice President – joined via Zoom), Josiah Ahmedu (Member); Kingsley Aigbonoga (Member); Ibrahim Gimba(Member); Mohammed Lawal Na Allah – joined via Zoom; Scot Nnaji (Coaches/Technical Rep); Stanely Gamut (Players Rep); Temitope Olowosulu (Paramilitary Rep).