By: James Bwala
The recent call for the suspension of international competition as claimed to have emanated from the presidency remains doubtful. This call has generated a lot of concern from basketball lovers as to why the government would sanction such a great sporting federation at the golden height of the game in Nigeria.
Basketball lovers are yet to come to terms with this, knowing that the president, Muhammad Buhari, who is a lover of sports may not have given such directives, especially looking at the enviable records of Ahmadu Musa Kida.
The question is who is witch-hunting Ahmadu Musa Kida? Stakeholders and the Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF raised concern at the weekend over the crises rocking the association. They were particular about why certain government officials are inducing vested interests in the activities of the association and the election held recently.
The decision to suspend Basketball competition internationally may have some social and political implications for this country. The participation of our country at the international level has the opportunity of providing our teeming youth with job employment, endorsement, recreation, national pride and a sense of belonging especially when other segments of sports are not performing.
It was revealed that the just concluded election of the association was witnessed by FIBA and won by a candidate but the government is saying it has suspended the election for two years. This decision has generated a lot of pressure within and outside the NBBF. It was opined that any time Nigeria wants to return to competitive international basketball that is when FIBA will swing its big sword to punish the association.
Recently I observed that the Nigerian factor may be playing out again in the ongoing crises in the NBBF. It supposes that NBBF should be the highest place of appreciation and respect for achievers especially people like Ahmadu Kida who distinguished himself in terms of administration and development of the association since he came on board as its President in 2017.
Kida is not only an achiever but a great player in the records of the history of achievers in the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF). It could be recalled that he had maintained the message of his declaration when he was elected the President of the Federation with the achievements of D’Tigress, D’Tigers and the junior basketball teams in the African scene, which has continued to serve as a reference to FIBA that the board is ready to grow dunking game in the country.
Recall that just a few months after assuming office, Kida’s administration has taken the national teams that included home-based players to big heights in the continent, just as it has also settled rifts and lifted the indefinite sanctions imposed on some clubs, coaches and players for participating in ‘illegal’ leagues by the board in 2015.
Kida’s achievements were tailored towards altering the old order and bringing new ideas which have continued to take NBBF to glory. The board under Ahmadu Kida worked hard to transform basketball in Nigeria. Today, D’Tigers and D’Tigress are the best teams in Africa in their respective categories. Within a short time frame, he raised a team that dominated Africa through sacrifices, hard work and making the resources available to ensure these feet were achieved.
The NBBF President has demonstrated doggedness in the face of many challenges. Despite the odds, he led Nigeria into hosting 2 of the 4 World Cup Windows and it is gratifying that as a result of this Nigerians saw topflight international Basketball and our Nigerian Stars playing at home after a long time. American top-rated players like Dinwiddie declared to naturalise to Nigerians in a wish to play for the country.
In the 2018 Women’s World Cup, D’Tigress beat Turkey, Argentina, and Greece before falling to Team USA in the Quarter Finals after a close first half. Under his watch, Nigeria’s Women participated in and won three (3) Women Afrobasket Competitions in Mali, Senegal and most recently Cameroon in 2017, 2019 and 2021 respectively. At the 2018 Women’s World Cup in Spain, Nigeria set an African record by reaching the Quarterfinals, the first by an African Women’s Team in World Basketball history.
Counting further on Kida’s achievements, Nigeria’s Men had participated in the 2017 Men’s Afro Basket after just 2 weeks of camping and won a silver medal, beating highly-rated teams like Cote D’Ivoire, Mali, Cameroon, and Senegal. The team also participated in the 2019 FIBA World Cup African Qualifiers and after 4 rounds of matches became the 1st country across the globe to qualify for the World Cup in China.
The extra incentive is that he ensured that the Men’s Team used the opportunity of the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, for which our National Team also qualified as No. 1 in Africa, as our route to qualifying directly for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Kida ensured that his board operated and led in the best interest of the game. He ensures that decisions taken by the board are such that it takes the overall interest of the stakeholders as well as looking at the future of the game and association in Nigeria.
Despite these achievements, the turn of events in the association is becoming an eyesore. Theí I.O And many continued to ask the question, who is then witch-hunting Ahmadu Musa Kida?
Recently, the Ministry wrote to Kida to postpone the Elective Congress to give way for a reconciliation committee to try and reconcile an imaginary crisis that did not exist in the Federation. Kida told them that he had no powers to alter congress decisions and so-called an extraordinary congress to address the demand of the Ministry that was uncalled for in the first place.
The Ministry tried all manner of dirty and disgraceful thrusts to get Kida indicted or implicated in one mess or the other but Kida always comes out clean. It was not still clear who they wanted to reconcile with and what all their bidding for reconciliation is all about. The reconciliation committee finished their expedition and the facts they laid before the Ministry was startling, as it completely took sides with all that the NBBF told the Ministry. When the Ministry exhausted their vain expedition to find fault with the Kida-led Board and found nothing, they were forced to direct Kida, in writing, to go ahead and hold a congress on the last day that FIBA gave.
Kida and his Board promptly directed the Secretariat to write to the congress convening the elective congress in Benin, as approved by the congress. However, in utter disregard to the power of the Congress, secretary-General exerted her powers as a ministry staff and took a unilateral decision to convene the elective congress in Abuja, despite the directive of the Honourable Minister that the congress should go ahead and hold in Benin.
The NBBF Congress members started calling Kida and threatened him with impeachment for flaunting their approval. Kida apologized, stepped in and decided to call the congress to Benin as approved. At least 28 states came to Benin with the apologies and exception of some states. The congress in Benin had a near-capacity as a quorum was overreached.
The Honourable Minister directed Kida that they must invite the Secretary-General to attend the elective congress, which she was supposed to have organized. Kida personally invited her and copied the Honourable Minister. Kida informed her that she has a vital role to play at the congress, but she refused to show up and gave no excuse.
In line with the provisions of the statutes and the powers of the congress, the congress voted unanimously to appoint a secretary for the elective congress in the absence of the secretary which was reflected in the minutes of the minute. The elective congress was one of the best in recent times and they followed the provisions of the constitution strictly.
While NOC sent a representative, Engr Tikkon, the table tennis president, to the elective congress. He called Kida to tell Kida that he had arrived in Benin for the elections as directed by the NOC President, Engr Habu Gummel, and Kida welcomed him. However, he also failed to show up at the venue of the elections as an observer and gave personal reasons.
All the elective proceedings were streamed live and FIBA officials were watching from the comfort of their offices with rapt attention. Their appointed observer later told the NBBF that FIBA scored the process 100%. However, while the Benin congress was going on, the Secretary-General was busy opening the stadium for a beer Parlors meeting. She invited some former and retired basketball players and hired people from area 10 to make a mockery of our sports democratic process.
Unfortunately, the Minister who should know better also falls for their games by calling the tea party organized by the Secretary-General who is not a Congress member in another election. Perhaps acting on their ministerial powers to frustrate Kida and his board, the Ministry should have acted in decorum. And if they don’t want to work with Kida and his board, the Ministry pays them all their money and lets them go.
Kida has been the one heavily funding the activities of the NBBF to the value of very huge sums, they only refunded a fraction of his monies, yet, they see him as a villain. He only occasionally visited the Ministry for briefing, as he feels he does not need to be in their faces for them to do their jobs since he has a functional secretariat.
The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari should be celebrating Engr. Ahmadu Musa Kida and asking him to improve on the enviable records the NBBF has achieved, and correct the impression that his government will kill the hope of the teeming youth who aspire for excellence in their chosen paths inclusportsmens men and women.