BY BEN NWACHUKWU, ABUJA
The proprietor of Mark Mentors Basketball Club Abuja, Igoche Mark has warned those working tirelessly to tarnish the image of former President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF, Mr. Tijani Umar to desist forthwith as their plots cannot scratch his reputation a bit.
Speaking against the accusations levelled by the detractors who are in their numbers in the camp of the immediate past President of the federation, Musa Kida, Mark said they should commend Umar rather than vilifying him.
“My attention has been drawn to an allegation against the person of a former President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Mr. Tijani Umar, accusing him of stealing Kwese League money.
“First and foremost, let it be made obvious that those making these damaging unsubstantiated allegations against Mr.Umar have made it their stock in trade to attempt to smear the names of persons at the helm of affairs of Basketball in the past 30 years, with similar frivolous and unproven allegations.
“For me, I see their unsavoury ploy as a strategy of trying to derail the processes leading to the restoration of normalcy in Nigeria’s Basketball and its leadership, the NBBF.
Mark noted that with a new timeline given by the Ministry for the constitution of a new NBBF Board, it is crystal clear that these machinationists are also bent on shifting the focus of serious minded stakeholders away from the unwholesome issues that tainted the tobulent reign of the Musa Kida led NBBF Board, in the last four years.
“As a matter of fact, those accusing Mr. Tijani Umar do not have any moral justification to fire the first shot, because they ought to know that whoever must go in search of equity, must do so with clean hands.
“It is on record, and unarguable that Mr. Tijani Umar as NBBF President (from 2013-2017) out-performed them, in many spares.
Reeling out the achievements of Tijani Umar who is now a Permanent Secretary in the Presidency, the Proprietor of Mark Mentors Basketball Club said, “As NBBF President, Mr.Umar blazed the trail by steering the D’Tigers to their first FIBA Aftobasket title in 2013, while ensuring that the team qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil. The same level of success was replicated in the D’Tigress who in addition to qualifying for the Olympics, won the first of their back-to-back FIBA Aftobasket titles.
“At the Domestic Scene, the DSTV Sponsored Men’s Premier League flourished, alongside the Zenith Bank Women’s Premier League, yet Mr. Umar whose vision is to have an all round development of basketball; demonstrated that he can be trusted, when attracting Kwese Sports, who committed an unprecedented whopping 20 million Naria, to the sponsorship of the NBBF Premier Basketball League.
“For me those are ludable achievments, worth celebrating and the modules need to be replicated, going forward. But did they bother to ask for the details of the contract,” he queried.
He warned that this act of trying to smear the name of Umar is coming from those he described as ‘drowning persons’ who are clutching to any straw for survival and added that now the stakeholders in the sport and indeed basketball loving Nigerians have begun to beam their searchlight on their regressive performances, while in office.
“The pressure is now much on them because Nigerians are asking them to come clean regarding funds appropriated and released to them when they were in office. The dice is cast and sadly for them, there is none to help in feathering their crumbled nest.
“I therefore enjoin Nigerians and especially basketball stakeholders to disregard these baseless allegations, invented to derail serious minded discuss on how to restore one of the nation’s most famous sport on the path of peace, growth and prosperity; both at the international and domestic fronts.
“My advise to this disenchanted persons is for them to give Mr.Tijani Umar a standing ovation for the glowing contributions he made towards developing the game in Nigeria.Our focus must also be focal in bannishing the ghost of tobulence and inactivity that characterized basketball, during the reign of the Musa Kida-led NBBF Board,” he maintained.