The Minister for Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, on Saturday inaugurated the Interim Management Committee (IMC) for the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) at the Ministry’s Conference Room at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja.
The Minister, during the inauguration, warned the committee members not to be entangled with federation politics but to be focused on the ‘rescue mission’ they have been called for.
Mr. Dare said developing basketball from the grassroots and creating a value chain off it is top on the agenda of the ministry not managing crises and disagreements among administrators.
He said: “Nigeria at this crucial period is more interested in developing young basketball talents and the domestic league than managing the crisis and disagreements among administrators.
“For years, the basketball value chain has been truncated such that home-based young players, coaches, referees, physical trainers, and sponsors were left empty.
“The role of the IMC is clearly and carefully set out: develop youth and grassroots basketball and organize the domestic league. Don’t get entangled in Federation politics.”
Since the infamous announcement made on May 12 that President Muhammdu Buhari had approved the country’s withdrawal from international engagements in order to sort things out from the home front, the Minister has been heavily criticised in various quarters.
Though Mr. Dare admits the self-imposed exile from international basketball is unpopular, he remains convinced it was the best thing to do in the present circumstances.
He said: “We have no choice but to take difficult, sometimes unpopular decisions for the growth and benefit of our sports.
“The Federal Government seeks to reverse this trend of the past where federations depart from the core of their mandates and the Ministry is caught in the web. Our athletes at home and abroad have done this country proud, putting the country first.
“I thank them most sincerely. We urge all stakeholders to come together. The national interest must come first.”
On the conclusion in some quarters, that the Ministry is overstepping its bounds and adjudicating roles meant for the federation to itself, Mr. Dare said: “Let me also serve this notice: Sports Development in Nigeria does not stop at the doorstep of any sporting federation.
“NBBF for instance does not have a monopoly on the development of basketball in Nigeria. The Ministry of Sports has the statutory responsibility of oversight and will not be blackmailed into relinquishing it.”
Members of the IMC sworn into office on Saturday include Henry Nzekwu, chairman; Udon Ubon Humapwa, member; Frank Jituboh, member; Zenith Bank Representative, member; and Adamu Ahmed – Member.
Others are Peter Nelson, member; Rahinatu Garba, member; Aderemi Adewunmi, member; Oluchi Nzekwe, member; and Seni Adio, member.
As stated by the Minister, the terms of reference of the Committee are to amongst others, draw up programmes that will revamp basketball from the grassroots, attract corporate sponsors and revive the moribund domestic leagues for the development of the game within two years.
Their brief also includes ensuring the development of basketball facilities in the entire country, and any other thing that will facilitate the development of the game in Nigeria.
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