The Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) will meet with the two factions of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) on Thursday in Abuja, the committee’s Secretary-General, Tunde Popoola, said on Friday.
Popoola said this was part of efforts to ensure peace returned to the administration of basketball in Nigeria before the Nov. 30 deadline given by the sport’s world governing body.
Newsmen report that the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) had mandated NOC to resolve the dispute between the boards led by Tijjani Umar and Musa Kida.
FIBA, through its General Secretary, Patrick Baumann, had said in a letter addressed to both parties that failure to have an amicable resolution between the two groups could have consequences.
It had said such a situation would see it resorting to wielding the big stick, which could include sanctions on Nigeria.
Umar was elected as the NBBF President in Kano on June 12, while Kida was also elected as President in Abuja on June 13.
Popoola said the NOC was doing everything possible to amicably resolve the impasse before the Nov. 30 deadline.
“It is important however to note that the Nov. 16 meeting will be a fact-finding one. There are few things that need to be done and I think we have already done part of it.
“We have consulted widely and then, of course, we are going to now look this time around at the sport itself. We will also be beaming our focus on the athletes who are concerned.
“So, basically it is on those bases our judgement will be made. We must protect the sport and we must protect the athletes. It’s important.
“So, we expect that the meeting will be one in which we will rub minds with all parties concerned and resolve amicably the situation on ground.
“But, so far so good, we have done what we are supposed to do,” he said.
Popoola however said the reconciliation demanded from the NBBF factions by FIBA as presented in their letter written to the two boards was the only way forward.
“I think we need to start from the letter first. That letter was very explicit and it spelt out exactly the way to go.
“The first thing is that the NBBF as a federation must try to solve their own problems internally.
“But where it becomes absolutely impossible, the NOC then has to come in to ensure that the matter is resolved either by way of maybe another election or by resolving the matter amicably between both parties.
“This is of course where we are now. The NOC has made enough efforts and meetings were called twice but one of the parties did not attend.
“Of course it was not reasonable for us to have gone ahead and taken a decision without having both parties together.
“That’s why we decided to fix another meeting for Nov. 16,” he said.
The NOC secretary-general assured basketball stakeholders and other Nigerians that normalcy would return to the sport before the Nov. 30 deadline.
“I am positive that both parties will exploit all avenues for peace and reconciliation.’’
He therefore urged all parties involved to make sure they were in attendance at the meeting in Abuja, adding that no excuses would be entertained this time around.
“I will like to believe that the non-attendance of one of the parties involved was a kind of `force majeure’. Maybe something happened and they could not make it.
“However, this time around, we will not entertain excuses from any of the parties for not being there for one reason or the other.
“They must all be there and if any decision is taken in the absence of any of the parties, it will be unfortunate,” the NOC official said.
He noted that the NOC was mindful of the importance of the task given to it by FIBA, adding that it would not fold its arms and allow the world basketball body ban Nigeria.
“Any federation that has a little squabble has the tendency to disrupt the progress of that sport and the NOC will stop at nothing to ensure that there is peace in every federation.
“It’s our job to ensure that every federation gets a fair deal in resolving its crisis, because in as much as we are human beings we must have squabbles once in a while. But I think we will get things done.
“I am so positive,” Popoola said.