Sports ministry wades in to free Olympics basketball kits

Nigeria’s D’Tigers were brought down to earth in Las Vegas on Tuesday night as they fell 69-108 to Australia, their group B rivals at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics Men’s Basketball Event.

In the near-crisis situation of the saga involving kits and equipment of Nigeria’s Basketball Olympics contingent that newsmen reported were withheld by the Nigeria Customs Service until a mandatory N35 million clearance fees were paid, the intervention of the Sports Ministry became necessary to procure the release of the consignment.

In only a little over a week before the events of the XXXLL Olympiad are to kick off in Tokyo, Japan, the Basketball contingent will finally get the necessary gear they need, which were actually donated to Nigeria by Peak Sports Products three whole months ago but were impounded at the Apapa ports in Lagos.

The inability of the Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF) to cough out such an amount for the consignment of goods donated to the country’s athletes to prosecute the country’s own ambitions at the global sports showpiece in the upcoming Games was considered as a ridiculous enough basis for the Customs to sit on the consignment despite pleas from the NBBF for reason to prevail as it was all the same government pursuing the same goals for Nigeria’s sporting fortunes.

After the news broke, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (FMYSD) stepped in with the avowed promise to quickly resolve the bottlenecks to speedily free the consignment and make the gear available to D’Tigers and D’Tigress squads before the Games begin.

A statement that confirmed this had taken place and that the Honourable Minister Sunday Dare had effected the clearance of the kits and equipment was made available and signed by John Joshua Akanji, who is from media office of the Sports Minister. Acknowledging the assistance of the Ministry of Finance and the Customs, Akanji said: “As promised, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare’s intervention has secured the release of basketball kits of the Nigerian Basketball Federation from Apapa Wharf,” the statement reads.

“The Caretaker Chairman of the Nigerian Basketball Federation, Musa Ahmadu-Kida, confirmed the release of the items late Thursday.

“The Minister expressed appreciation to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali, for making the release of the kits possible.”

It brings an unsightly chapter of internal loggerheads of government parastatals, which often present unyielding hurdles to progress generally and often in sports-related matters, to an end. The unnecessary stumbling block could have persisted to the detriment of the athletes without the elevated intervention of the office of the Sports Minister.

These occurrences of powerplay and anti-progressive examples of an absence of synergy between government institutions that are supposedly in operation to better the lot of Nigerians cannot continue to be a part of the obstacles on the path to a better country for us all.

Newsmen believe such an internal issue between agents of government can be handled better with internal organs that allow the free flow of communications, which is a necessary ingredient to smooth out rough edges, iron out divisions, map out strategies of conflict resolutions for the benefit of all before it becomes an issue for the media to divulge to the government’s embarrassment.

Without the kits, D’Tigers have had an impressive trio of pre-Olympic exhibition games. As reported, the Nigerians shocked the world by becoming the first side to beat the highest ranked basketball team in the world, the USA after a 39-match unbeaten streak and the first African team ever to do so. D’Tigers followed that with another impressive defeat of fourth ranked team Argentina.

They suffered a loss in their last exhibition match against a team they will face when the Olympics hostilities commence, Australia, the world’s third ranked country. That July 25th game will allow D’Tigers avenge Nigeria’s 39-point loss gap at the Saitama Super Arena. Nigeria will also compete against Germany and Italy in Group B.

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