Nigeria may be out of international football for a long time than anticipated, as a result of Federal Government’s withdrawal from the system for two years, so says the President, FIBA Africa Zone III, Col. Sam Ahmedu.
Following the leadership crisis that has dogged Nigerian basketball for more than eight years; the Federal Government withdrew the country from international competitions for a period of two years, with the plan to set up Interim Management Committee for basketball leagues.
But Col Ahmedu, who spoke to newsmen in Ilorin yesterday on the sideline of the ongoing Central Conference of Nestle Secondary School Basketball Championship frowned at the decision, which he added, was unfair.
According to him, “We will not play international basketball until between 2028 or 2029, as a result of that decision.
”We have locked ourselves for two years, and FIBA already recognizes a Board in place in Nigeria, despite the crisis, and what happened can be termed as government interference.
Analyzing the challenges that the withdrawal will pose on the game in the country, the FIBA Technical Delegate said that Nigeria would have lost of the World Cup, next AfroBasket circle and the Basketball African League (BAL).
“After the two years, we would have lost out of the World Cup, because we were going to play the third window next month. With that, we would be banned and fined. Our girls were to go to Australia and prepare for the World Cup, and now, they would not be going. That’s another ban and fine, and the next Afrobasket circle, which would have qualified us for Olympics and the Nations Cup, we are out.
“We suspended ourselves for two years. Add all these up, and we will end up organizing inter-house sports for the next eight years. Our Sports Minister is an inter-house Sports Minister. When we are supposed to be aspiring for the top, we are jeopardizing the chances of our youths. It’s a pity.
“It was the Ministry that took over the organization of the Super Eight. It was played, and Rivers Hoopers qualified. Now, the final round of BAL is next week, and they will not play in the championship.
“I pity our youths. Some of them will now start running outside the country to play. Now that they wanted to set up an Interim management Committee to run the system, who would be members of the Committee, and what has been their stakes in the system?
Col Ahmedu traced the history of the crisis in basketball to year 1997, pointing out that the crisis is being created and fuelled by the Ministry of Sports because of greed and selfish reasons.
He equally fingered some ex-basketballers of fuelling the crisis, because they wanted “settlement” which was not granted.
The Ministry had listed about ten selling points that prompted the decision to stay away from international basketball to include: Five years of endless leadership crisis, court suspending National Basketball League for three years plus because of leadership tussle, sponsors abandoning basketball, including 12 year of domestic sponsorship of Female Basketball by Zenith Bank, youthful local talents wasting away for years because of a nonfunctional league, and that all players drawn entirely from the USA and overseas.
The reasons also included banning Nigeria from participating in Basketball League Africa because of leadership disagreements, emergence of two factions despite the interventions by the Federal Government, the Ministry and Federal Government misrepresented many times to FIBA by elements from the factions, FIBA rejecting government’s invitation to visit Nigeria and step into the crisis, Call for the removal of some individual by national team players and the issue of outstanding allowances and debts to some players.