This is actually not the best of time for the Basketball Federation of Nigeria, no thanks to the minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare.
When the crisis commenced some years back under the then minister, Mr. Solomon Dalung, many thought he was not competent enough to manage the sports ministry until he was booted out.
Then, the fight was between Tijani Umar and Musa Kida, with the later recognized as the Nigeria Basket-Ball Federation, NBBF president but that did not deter Umar who went on to run his own federation.
When the tenure of the duo expired, Umar didn’t show interest anymore because of his present responsibility as the permanent secretary of the Presidential Villa hence one of his loyalists, Mark Igoche picked interest in the position.
Meanwhile, after the expiration of all the sports federations, the minister, Dare appointed caretaker chairmen for all the federations which he later dissolved when the elections approached.
Other federations had their elections except Badminton and Basketball because of the crisis rocking them. When it was eventually agreed to have the NBBF election, the press release which was made available to media houses revealed that they have agreed to hold the election on the 31st of January, 2022 at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
Some days to the election, Mr. Kida, who referred to himself as the president of NBBF despite having finished his tenure and being dissolved by the minister, moved the congress and election to Benin for reasons best known to him. Some stakeholders led by Mark Igoche were not comfortable with the sudden change of venue and Kida referring to himself as president hence decided to stay back in Abuja.
Precisely January 31st, 2022, the Mark Igoche-led group had its election with Igoche emerging as the president while in Benin, Musa Kida-led group also had its election with Kida voted as president. As we speak, we have two factional presidents of NBBF, the second time in a roll.
Many pundits are not surprised because this is not the first time it is happening, but they are surprised at the non-challance attitude of the minister of sports, Mr. Sunday Dare who many said failed in his responsibility.
They were disappointed because they were expecting him to have solve the problem before that day by insisting on a particular venue. Even if he is supporting a candidate, there is nothing wrong with that and he can tactically use people to install such person, by now, the crisis would have died down naturally, but for him to have kept mute doesn’t speak well of his ability and competence as an administrator.
To make matter worse, on the day of the two elections, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sport Development was busy organizing a sendforth party for one of his retiring staff, the Director of Facilities and Stadium Development, Alhaji Mohammed Babakobi.
There is no other way to describe this than, saying he is celebrating while his house is on fire. Even though, he was nowhere near the party, his non-challance attitude on the basketball issue is enough to describe his person.
For anyone who cares to listen, the Basketball will affect many people and the country at large. As it is now, Nigeria stands to be banned by the world basketball ruling body, FIBA and that means we will not feature in any international championship.
Before then, he failed to show up at the Mark D Ball Basketball competition, a championship for women which took place in Abuja, some few distance from Dare’s office both at the stadium and the federal secretariat.
Even if the minister was too busy to appear at the opening ceremony, is he also too busy for the closing ceremony which had so many top dignitaries from all walks of life including artistes (musicians, comedians, etc).
Maybe Mr. Dare is actually playing politics with sports, probably the people organizing the basketball or those at the venue are from the other party and doesn’t want to be seen as mingling with them.
Mr. Dare forgot that he needs to be at his primary duty before playing politics. It is disheartening for the players especially those who spoke at the event. They disclosed that they are disappointed that the minister was not around to cheer them up. One of them who spoke on anonymity said if it were to be football, the minister would have been there or flown into the country.
Recalled that the female basketball championship is the first after a long time due to both the election crisis and the covid-19 issue that ravaged the world.
Meanwhile, this is a big lesson for the Nigerian government to learn from, it is high time we stopped putting square pegs in round holes. Since we know the importance of other sectors and we don’t put journalists, Bankers or Engineers in charge of ministry of Health or Justice, we should not put just anybody in sports too.
If there is no politician who is sports-incline, we can as well bring in sportsmen or ex-internationals into sports ministry and then convert them to politician if it is compulsory to have politicians as ministers.
Mr. Dare started well especially in the revival of the stadia across the country but his attitude towards the numerous crises in the federations is uncalled for. Not forgetting, the crisis in Badminton which will soon commence.
If truly, Dare is the father of all sports in Nigeria, then he must be seen to be doing so and not be pretending to do so. We know the role he played in the NFF crisis but if he fails to handle the other crises well, then he will be seen and known also as football minister just like his predecessors.