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FG Lifts Ban On Nigeria's Participation In Int'l Basketball Competitions

The Federal Government of Nigeria has reversed its decision to withdraw the national teams from participating in international basketball competitions.

The reversal was announced in a statement by Ismaila Abubakar, permanent secretary of the ministry of youth and sports development, on Thursday in Abuja.

On May 12, Sunday Dare, minister of youth and sports development, announced President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to withdraw Nigeria from all international basketball competitions for the next two years. 

The minister said the decision was part of efforts by the government to revamp the sport from the grassroots.

Consequently, FIBA replaced D’Tigress with Mali at the upcoming 2022 Women’s World Cup, which spurred an avalanche of backlashes from both players and fans alike.

In the statement, Abubakar said the reversal was made possible because “some significant developments have occurred” since the ban.

He said the ministry met with FIBA and reaffirmed the “mutual respect for the laws and constitution of Nigeria as a sovereign state, and also FIBA.”

The permanent secretary added that the board of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) wrote a letter of appeal to the ministry and “apologised to Mr. President and the Minister over the embarrassment the developments around basketball and the conduct of some stakeholders has brought upon Nigeria.”

“Following the Presidential approval withdrawing Nigeria from International Basketball competitions for 2 years, a number of significant developments have occurred, the most significant being the following.” the statement read.

“Intervention by concerned stakeholders, former Nigerian international basketball players and well-meaning Nigerians to seek solutions to the issues that triggered the decision.

“The Video conference meeting between the top hierarchy of FIBA and the Minister of Youth and Sports produced common understanding in certain general areas, concluding with a commitment by both FIBA and Nigeria to explore and collaborate on enhancing relationships, development of basketball and reaffirming mutual respect for the laws and constitution of Nigeria as a sovereign state, and also FIBA.

“A letter of Appeal from the NBBF Board signed by Musa Kida and dated June 17th, 2022 addressed to the Hon. Minister of Youth and Sports Development Chief Sunday Dare. The letter of Appeal among other things apologised to Mr President and the Minister over the embarrassment the developments around basketball and the conduct of some stakeholders have brought upon Nigeria. The letter appealed to the Minister to use his good offices to approach President Buhari for the reversal of the 2-year withdrawal of Nigeria from international basketball competitions. The Appeal letter also critically gave some key undertakings: to immediately set in motion the process of statutes review or constitutional amendments from stakeholders as collated by the ministry of youth and sports development; to set up a high-powered team to reconcile all contending parties in the basketball family at home and abroad, and a commitment to work with the Ministry in the governance and development of basketball among other things.  Above all, the compliance of NBBF to the issues at stake made this possible. 

“Flowing from the above and upon a review, the FMYSD approached Mr President and placed these developments before him. President Muhammadu Buhari, being one that is committed to youth development and desirous of ensuring that they are availed of all opportunities in sports and other endeavours considered the appeal and 

“In the overriding spirit of national interest, love for our youth, and in order to avoid sending basketball development into a long period of suspension, when NBBF has now committed to the resolution of the issues which precipitated the withdrawal in the first place, has approved the return of Nigeria to international basketball immediately. 

“In securing this approval, of note is the caution that the laws of Nigeria cannot be subjugated to any other law, and every Nigerian entity must respect Nigerian laws and authority governing various sectors.  Failure to do this, as with any constitutionally bound sovereign nation will attract sanctions. There was first a country before any organization or federation that bears the Nigerian name, colours, and flag in representing  Nigeria. 

“Secondly, all those that lead government organizations, and in this case our federations, hold such positions in trust for the Government and people of Nigeria under the direct supervision of the Minister of Youth and Sports. The President has directed the ministry of youth and sports to ensure the speedy implementation of the undertakings by NBBF which formed a major basis of his reversal.  The Ministry is to report back to Mr President on progress.”

It remains to be seen if FIBA will reinstate D’Tigress for the 2022 Women’s World Cup.

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