Babatunde Ogunade, Vice-President of Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), says the Tijani Umar-led group of the federation is responsible for the failure of the national league competitions to hold so far.
Ogunade speaking on Sunday in Abuja said this was because the national leagues have not been handed over to the current board by its immediate-past predecessor.
“NBBF is operating without any handing-over note from the previous board led by Tijani Umar as president. This is why the Men’s Division One and Division Two leagues have not been held,’’ he said.
The two league competitions usually hold between October and December of every year.
“Since the inauguration of the current NBBF board, led by Musa Kida, the immediate-past board has not handed over to us.
“This is in spite of FIBA’s recognition of our board as the main line of communication with the Nigerian basketball community.
“We waited for the conclusion of preliminaries of the 2017 Men’s Premiership League said to be sponsored by Kwese Sports, but the previous board did not hand over.
“That led to the letter we wrote to all the clubs which qualified for the Conference Six that they should wait for our clarification before taking part in it.
“Only two clubs obeyed the instruction, while others went ahead. Another club which qualified for the Final Eight later complied with our directive.
“We had to move on in the interest of the game and prepared for international competitions, and this has brought us victory in every outing.
“The only 2017 league that we gave our consent to its conclusion by the previous board was the Women Premiership League, sponsored by Zenith Bank,” Ogunade said.
On the $12 million sponsorship sum for the Kwese Men’s Premiership League, Ogunade said the Kida-led board has no record of such money in its bank account.
“There is no record of the payment by Kwese Sports into the NBBF account, except the payment was made into a different account.
“All that will be resolved in due time as corporate organisations like Kwese Sports is not expected to make such transaction because of its implications,” he said.
However, in a reaction, Ajibarede Bello, the League Director under the Umar-led NBBF, dismissed allegations of any wrongdoing by the Tijani Umar-led board.
“The fact that FIBA communicates with the NBBF through the Kida-led group does not make it authentic. So, we will continue to handle the leagues in the country till the NBBF leadership crisis is fully resolved.
“Obviously, nobody will expect us to hand over to a board that is not recognised as the authentic one by the world governing body.
“They (Kida-led NBBF) lack the capacity to run any successful league. We waited this long to see if they can organise any of the divisional league competitions, but it is now clear they can not,’’ he said.
Bello however assured that there would soon be some action regarding the two competitions.
“We will roll out the plans for the Divisions One and Two league competitions in the next couple of days. The leagues will be coming up again,” he said.
NAN reports that the leadership crisis in NBBF started after the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development (FMYSD) directed all national sports federation boards to hand over to their Secretaries-General.
The Kida-led board had emerged through FMYSD-organised elections, while the Umar-led board emerged through elections organised by the federation.
FIBA, the regulatory body for the game, has since been intervening in the matter, with an earlier deadline of Nov. 30 and now Feb. 28, for the two groups to resolve the crisis.