By Patrick Omorodion
THE crisis in the basketball family created by the flagrant disregard for the directive of both the International Olympic Committee, IOC and the sport’s world governing body, FIBA by the sports minister, Solomon Dalung, is yet to abate.
Despite the visit of FIBA’s 3-man panel to Nigeria to hear from the feuding factions as well as the sports minister and seek a way to end the crisis, the minister and his foot soldiers on the Musa Kida faction are bent on destroying the game finally. First worry. Kweku Tandoh
Kweku Tandoh, is a name I used to respect. Why am I writing this? He was recently appointed Chairman of the Lagos State Commission, the same position the revered Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima occupies in Kano state.
After the Sports minister joined the Kida faction to scuttle the Kwese Premier Basketball games from being played at the Federal Government owned stadia in Abuja and Lagos, organisers of the league got approval from the Lagos state Sports Commission to use the Mobolaji Johnson Sports Centre at Rowe Park in Lagos for the Atlantic Conference games. The first two weeks saw basketball action at the venue that means a lot to Lagos athletes, both retired and active.
But like the Rivers state sports commissioner that cherishes his personal friendship with Musa Kida more than the career of basketball youths in Rivers state, Tandoh cherishes his friendship to one Babatunde Ogunade, who claims to be the vice president of the Kida faction, more than the development of basketball in Lagos state and Nigeria as well as the career of young players from Lagos state who use the facilities at Rowe to play the league.
That is why Tandoh went against the decision of the Board of the sports commission which approved the use of the venue for the basketball league to withdraw the approval, I’m told. While Alhaji Galadima is encouraging basketball in Kano, Tandoh is killing it in Lagos state. But will Governor Akinwunmi Ambode allow this to happen to a Lagos state he is trying so hard to make a model, not only in Nigeria but in Africa as a whole?
Week 3 Games were not played at Rowe Park because Tandoh allegedly locked out the teams. They have moved to another facility at Oshodi in Lagos which turned out to be better than the one Tandoh denied them from using. And the games have continued unhindered because the teams, the players and coaches have said they want to play basketball and not interested in the politics.
The Kida group fully backed by the sports minister are turning out to be very vindictive. They say they are out to help basketball grow yet their actions everyday prove otherwise. Because American coach, William Voigt was contracted to handle the national men’s basketball team by the Tijjani Umar led Board, they refused to renew his contract with the NBBF and brought in a new coach.
They gave the new coach Nigerian assistants, believing they could use that to lure them to their side. When the coaches kept aligning with the Umar Board, playing in the Kwese Premier League, they quickly announced their replacements. With who? Coaches of the clubs they denied participation in the Kwese Premier League. As a consolation for not allowing them to earn their living legitimately. I want to ask, for how long will these men continue to ruin the careers of players and coaches because of their selfish interest? Those coaches and players who are quick to jump unto their train should know that the train is moving on a borrowed engine and may derail any moment from now. A word is enough for the wise.
And just during the week which ended yesterday, as if to let Nigerians know that he is not finished with his destructive plans for basketball in Nigeria, the sports minister came to Lagos to read his score card for the Commonwealth Games which ended over a month ago. But is was a decoy. He wanted to speak on the basketball crisis in which he has taken sides with the Kida group but he knew sports journalists in Abuja are no longer interested in his unnecessary tirades against the Tijjani Umar group.
As usual, he went on spewing nonsense. The same FIBA he once believed will endorse his illegal election in Abuja which threw up Musa Kida, have turned ‘the problem’ of basketball in Nigeria.
“FIBA is the one causing problem in our basketball. We have concluded everything about elections in our sports federation. I don’t know why FIBA is encouraging illegality by calling for fresh elections,” observed Dalung.
“We introduced reforms in the sports federations and organised a free and transparent elections. I don’t know how a man (he was referring to Umar here) who did not pick form to stand for an election would be talking about being elected. Interestingly, the case has gone to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) and a winner emerged. I am a lawyer (indeed?) and knows (sic) what the rule of law stands for,” the minister stressed.
Dalung said he organised a free and transparent election. Now he says the case was taken to CAS and someone won. Who went to CAS to challenge the election he said was transparent and who is the winner who emerged? Does this man really know what he is saying? Maybe he doesn’t even know what CAS means. Nigeria’s sports is in real trouble. And only President Buhari will remove this nuisance from our sports.