OPINION : Basketball Nuggets To My Basketball Family

May 25 04:24 2022

By: Ayodele Bakare

“FORGIVE THEM FATHER, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO!” (LUKE 23:34)

The Oracle is waxing spiritual today. How else can one react to the news that the Ministry of Sports (masquerading as the FGN), has taken the shocking, unprecedented and retrogressive step of setting up an Interim Management Committee to oversee Nigerian Basketball!
It is indeed apt in this situation to say, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. But how does that prayer work, when those behind this atrocity indeed know very well what they are doing?

GOVERNMENT VERSUS PRIVATE SECTOR?
I will be blunt and say without apology to anyone, that antecedents and experience has taught us that any enterprise placed in the hands of a ministry or government dies, rather than thrives. “Quod erat demonstrandum” (QED). Nothing more to be said on that argument.
In an era that stresses privatization and the need to remove the hands of government from things that can be done by the private sector, how did we get to the stage where we now actually believe that a Ministry of the government is better equipped to take charge of Nigerian basketball than the private sector? The fact that the Ministry has cunningly handpicked a few people to mask the fact that they will be holding the purse strings and dictating matters, should not confuse us please.

2) THE RIDICULOUSLY FLIMSY FOUNDATION SOLD TO JUSTIFY THE HOSTILE TAKEOVER AND HIJACKING OF NIGERIAN BASKETBALL BY THE MINISTRY.

  • “That the factions of the NBBF have been called to several meetings and told to go and make peace, but they refused to work together”. Really? Hahahahaha!
  • In the meantime, the report of the Committee set up by the Ministry itself on the NBBF crisis, remains unimplemented by the Ministry.
  • And the Ministry? In spite of their Ministerial Committee Report, in spite of several meetings with the factions at which they each presented their cases with evidence, in spite of unfettered access to every information from NOC, IOC and FIBA which should have clarified any legal or moral ambiguity in this matter, the Minister and Ministry of Sports are yet to make ANY statement or take ANY position on which of the two NBBF elections is valid and acceptable to them.
  • I don’t believe that it is possible for the Minister/Ministry to have been as naive and inept as to expect that the two NBBF contenders, left to their own whims and caprices, and without any direction or structure whatsoever, would walk out of the room and concede political victory to one another regarding an election which they rightly or wrongly believed they had won. What did the Ministry say or do to foster a resolution, other than to ask them to go and work together? Work together? HOW? Is each faction expected to willy nilly surrender the mandate it believes it has won? Or are they to share the seats within the NBBF Board and in what percentage? Or are they to rotate leadership on an annual basis until their term is up? WORK TOGETHER, HOW?
  • My basketball family, please borrow yourselves sense. Rise above personal agendas and petty prejudices. My conclusion is that this is nothing but an excuse, a set up to take over the NBBF. This is calling a dog a bad name just to hang it. Shine your eyes and know who the real problems of Nigerian basketball are.

3) “AND THIS TOO SHALL SOON PASS”.
Unknown to many people, the above quote is not contained anywhere in the Bible. It is a Persian adage, used to highlight the temporary nature or ephemerality of any condition we may find ourselves. And so, this blight on the face of Nigerian basketball too, shall soon pass. We may not have much longer to suffer.

  • In another few months from now, a fresh election and another central government will be in place. New government, new policies, new operarators.
  • Latest by that time (or even before), a new Minister of Sports will have emerged. In just a few short months or less. Where is Solomon Dalung today? Power sometimes decives us into thinking that it is permanent and not transient, so we often misuse it.
  • The effects of these missteps will perhaps force a change in policy direction, and that new direction will likely see us retrace these draconian measures. And we will be able to “Pursue, Overtake and Recover All” (1 Samuel 30:8)

4) COURAGE IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF FEAR, BUT THE ABILITY TO CONTROL IT. ON THE OTHER HAND, FEARLESSNESS MAY OFTEN LEAD TO CARELESSNESS AND FOOLISHNESS.
It is good to be fearless and confront or defy FIBA, if we feel that it is in our best interest. But we must not be ignorant of the repercussions and the end results of that line of action. FIBA’s hammer will certainly descend on us. And that is not an idle threat propagated to scare anyone. After all, what is the use of threatening anyone now that the die is cast, and we have already chosen our path. But it is good to tell us what to expect and why we cannot win in this game of ‘chicken’. Go and write it down today, Nigeria will blink first before FIBA.
Although those who know history and the facts but choose to ignore it, will try to tell you different. They will say Nigeria is a sovereign nation. Yes. And membership of FIBA is certainly optional, not a do or die affair. True also. But common sense says there must be a reason why there is no parallel body to FIBA in the entire world. And there must be benefits at stake, whereby every basketball Nation struggles to maintain it’s membership of FIBA.
Nigeria is only one of over 200 member Nations which form FIBA. FIBA will never compromise their statutes or eat humble pie, just to appease Nigeria. No country, not even the almighty basketball juggernaut USA, wins in a confrontation with FIBA. Please don’t be misled by politically correct statements from FIBA officials seeming to covet their relationship with Nigeria and seeming to be willing to compromise their statutes for us. Some of us know better. They will hit us hard. FIBA does not need Nigeria! And if Nigeria also does not feel that they need FIBA, GREAT! It is the stuff that important chapters in history are written about and learnt from. The effects of our war with FIBA may take time to unfold, but I say without fear of contradiction that we will rue the day that we choose to wage war with FIBA.
5) AND THE VULTURES AND JACKALS, THE SCAVENGERS, ARE ALREADY CIRCLING.
Reading through some of the posts and reactions to the move by the Ministry, I am not suprised that the vultures are already circling overhead. Congratulatory messages to the ‘New Basketball Board’. Identification with some of the members as old schoolmates or friends. Pledges to support and offers to serve.
But that is to be expected. There is hunger in the land. And after all, our elders say that “it is a foolish fly that follows the corpse into the grave”. I understand. Although I must say that you will be making the struggle to do the right thing that much harder, if all you can see in this situation is an opportunity for personal benefit or relevance.

MY OGA HONORABLE MINISTER, YOU ARE MUCH BETTER THAN THIS.
Don’t let them stain your white cloth with oil. LEFAM4GOD Sir. You are a man that I respect so much and who filled me with so much hope for the future of sports in Nigeria, especially following so closely after the Dalung era. Mr Sunday Dare seemed so intellectual, so different to Dalung. So I wonder, is it that there is no one immune to the calculating manipulation of the technocrats in our Sports Ministry? With their deliberate bad advice and misinformation, calculated to promote their selfish and self serving agendas? Is there no hope that indeed, a saviour is coming?
Mr Sunday Dare, in a very short time, you will no longer be Minister of Sports. I am not cursing you, I am only stating the facts. What will be your legacy, and how will you be remembered?

WHAT DOES THE ORACLE WANT YOU TO DO, HONORABLE MINISTER?
1) Oga, you must come out with a definitive statement on which NBBF election is valid and acceptable. Pick one and let us meet the other faction in court. We will line up behind you. If the one you pick is acceptable to FIBA, then we continue with no ban. If it is not acceptable to FIBA, then we continue to ‘enjoy’ our ban. But please let an NBBF Board run Nigerian Basketball, not your Ministry under any pretext. That would be unheard of, unseen before, an anathema, an abomination! No more dancing around the matter. That is the only solution to this current crisis. That is what is expected of you as our leader in Nigerian Sports in general, and in basketball in particular. Leadership is about taking responsibility for tough decisions. And that is what I meant when I said that ‘you are better than this’.
2) Ignore the Ministry’s advice for the next one week. They will only whisper in your ear to distract you and sheperd you towards their own agenda. Any revolutionary step which they suggest to you, ask them to give you examples of where it has been the solution to similar crisis in Nigerian Sports or International Sports.
3) In that time, personally read the report of the Ministerial Committe on this NBBF crisis which you yourself set up. Dialoge with the Committee’s members.
4) Release their report to the public so that we can all be acquainted with the true facts of the matter, and not speculations that are being circulated in the public space.
5) Engage with, and enter into special dalogue with NOC and FIBA to find a solution. Zoom meetings can help accelerate this process. Not the thirty member strong meetings populated with people of various agendas. Just as small a number of people as possible, even one on one with the leadership of these bodies so that you can genuinely rub minds freely to evolve a solution. For the sake of Nigerian basketball, swallow any pride and humble yourself to seek dialogue with them. For an enduring and lasting solution devoid of pain for Nigerian basketball and it’s stakeholders, you need to be guided by and carry along these two bodies. And they will respond to you once they feel you are genuine, because they similarly desire closure to this festering sore.
6) Oga, don’t meet or discuss with either NBBF faction or their proxies anymore! Because there is nothing they want to say now that they have not told you already. This is no longer a time for discussion, it is now a time for decision and instruction, based on the facts.
7) And at the end when you have done all this, give us your decision about which is the legitimate NBBF election and Board, and we will accept it. It is too late for compromise now. It is either one Board or the other, not an amalgamation of both.
8) Of course, I am saying all the above under the assumption and trust that you are not involved in promoting any agenda for yourself personally, or for the Ministry Cabal.

The Oracle has spoken.

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