The battle for the soul of basketball in Nigeria got messier yesterday with an alleged move by the Youth and Sports ministry to scuttle the on-going Nigeria Basketball Federation organised leagues for men and women
Unconfirmed report which filtered in from the sports ministry’s offices in Abuja yesterday has it that a memo has been allegedly sent to the director in charge of the sports federations to grant powers to Chimezie Asiegbu, recently appointed the secretary general of the NBBF to stop the various clubs in both the Kwese Premier League for men and the Zenith Bank Women’s League from using the sports facilities scattered around the country for their games.
According to the information, the memo also suggested that all the basketball clubs, their players and coaches should be warned against dealing with officials of the NBBF in their own interest until the inauguration of a new board.
The development if carried out could scuttle the new sponsorship deal for the men’s league with Kwese Sports and the recently cemented new deal for the women’s league with the Zenith Bank Plc.
Reacting yesterday, some stakeholders said the sports ministry was teeming up with some mischief makers among the basketball family who want to take over the running of the federation at all cost.
“This move is only going to scuttle the league and cut off the means of livelihood of the players, coaches and all other officials involved in running the league as well as jeopardizing their career and the new sponsorship deal,” a worried official stated.
Another official who described the move as “unfortunate” wondered why “the same people who say they are out to develop the game of basketball are the ones pushing the ministry to scuttle the league and destroy the career of the same players they say they want to protect”.
It would be recalled that the move to forcefully take over the federations and hand them over to some disgruntled stakeholders, especially basketball, started with the reshuffling of the secretaries and reposting of the new one appointed for the NBBF for Asiegbu deployed to do a hatchet job for the ministry.
His first action now is a memo he has allegedly done to his bosses to stop the men’s and women’s leagues until further notice as well as stop the clubs from using the ministry’s facilities, which belongs to the people, across the venues in the country.
“Why would they want to stop the league and destroy the future of the players. The leagues belong to the clubs and not the NBBF which just the organising body. This is the right time for all true basketball stakeholders to speak against this injustice and not sit on the fence,” another official stated.