D’Tigers might fail to retain Afrobasket title, as internal dispute lingers says Oyedeji

D’Tigers might fail to retain Afrobasket title, as internal dispute lingers says Oyedeji

Following the 2017 Afrobasket draws that were concluded two weeks ago in Mauritius, former D’Tigers captain Olumide Oyedeji believes Nigeria are in a tough group.

Oyedeji who was present at the draw ceremony gave his reaction on the forthcoming tournament billed for September 8-16. Nigeria’s D’Tigers have been drawn to face Mali, Cote d’Ivoire and DR Congo.

“It’s going to be a tough and physical group because the style of play from all 4 countries is similar but you can’t sleep on any team. The difference between Nigeria and the other 3 is experience and execution. But I am not going to say it’s going to be easy for Nigeria to top the group,” he said.

“We have a fair chance of topping the group but it’s easier said than done. We have to take care of our business, take care of the group games and make sure we win the games then we are ready. At the same time, facing tougher opposition in the group stage we won’t be laid back going into the second round or the final rounds at least we will be well tested before then.”

This will be the first time the Afrobasket Championship will be hosted by two nations. The Hoops & Read Basketball Club CEO thinks the new changes will add glamour to the competition.

“They are making it short and quick this time around. Previously, you lose in the elimination round, you don’t go to the quarter finals and semis. But this time around, there is no second round. Top two teams in each of the 4 groups qualify for the quarter and then the semis.

Meanwhile, it is expected that the D’Tigers get adequate preparation required to defend the title they won for the first time in 2015. There is no doubt that the internal wrangling in the Nigeria Basketball Federation may be a set back to the team’s success at the 2017 Afrobasket. The power tussle between two camps has slowed down the team’s preparation.

“There is no doubt about it that there is no stability in Nigeria basketball. We have lost exhibition games because of it, warm up matches in Europe but we can only control what we can control. It’s sad, unfortunate, it’s happening at this time of the year when we should be talking about preparation rather we are talking about stability and who has control of the federation. At the end of the day we want the best for the team, players, and for Nigeria to retain the title and in November we should be preparing for the world cup qualifiers.”

The power tussle has been on for a very long time and none of the factions which include the Tijani Umar led board and the Engr Ahmadu Musa Kida is ready to put a stop to the fight. Elections were carried out on separate days and different venues. Umar’s faction had theirs on June 12 in Kano while Kida had theirs a day later in Abuja.

Oyedeji said the choice of venue for their elections is at the discretion of the stakeholders and not constitutional.

“There is no place in the Constitution that says you have to hold elections in Abuja or at a given date. Was NFF elections not held in Delta State? So how is ours different? He asked. 

“The other faction is the same faction who took federal government, minister, and the then director general of the national sports commission to court citing government interference and now they are saying they want to follow the ministry because they believe that they have the upper hand. Looking at where they even did their election, it wasn’t the same place they were meant to hold the election, they rather walked away from it to a hotel in Abuja. The Kida faction knew they were doing something illegal and not following Constitution. I don’t want to delve into basketball politics but why is it that it’s one or two persons that have been our problem for over 2 decades?  Does the ministry give us basketball rules? Do they tell us how a 3 pointer should be shot? Then why are we following the ministry and not FIBA rules? He questioned.

Both factions are strongly convinced they followed due process in their various elections and as such theirs will be the one recognized by the world basketball body, FIBA.

I am a member of FIBA World and I follow due process – Oyedeji.

“We can’t keep doing things in the wrong way every time and say we want to move forward. There was a letter from 4 years ago and the same group who are on the government side now were the same group that went to the IOC and FIBA saying there was interference. They went to court did every single thing. FIBA and IOC sent us a letter saying “no” to government interference and that every federation must follow their own status according to their international federation. Government can’t make these rules or decide for them because they should be autonomous,” Oyedeji stated.

This is the same people after been warned by the international body have now gone their way to do their own election.

Oyedeji who is a factional vice president expects FIBA to give their verdict soon. He revealed to ACLSports that FIBA is yet to recognize any of the factions.

“I am hoping it can be done as soon as possible so we can focus all our energy to the game making sure we can retain the title. FIBA doesn’t recognize my faction or even theirs. They recognize only the old board for now. They are aware of what is going on, both factions were interviewed and queried, “Oyedeji disclosed.

It may interest you to know that world governing body, FIBA sent a letter on Wednesday July 26, 2017 through his Secretary General Patrick Baumann to the leaders of both factions involved in the dispute, Tijani Umar and Musa Kida expressing their dissatisfaction with both elections and as such cannot recognize either election. FIBA has given Nigeria Basketball Federation NBBF till November 30th to resolve all internal disputes either through new elections or through an amicable solution under the auspices of the National Olympic Committee.

Oyedeji however, gave his plea to the two factions in Nigeria Basketball to sheath their sword and develop the game together.

Just appealing to all the basketball family to come out as one and bring peace in Nigeria basketball and I don’t care whoever it is.

“We all need to find a solution to this long enmity that has been happening for over two decades in Nigeria Basketball. Even the young ones that didn’t know what really happened between the two factions are taking sides. Rather than take sides why not ask questions and find solutions.

Oyedeji who was in the country’s roaster when they won the 2015 Afrobasket in Tunisia said it is pointless changing the coach who delivered the long awaited trophy.

“Can we fix a glass that is not broken? We will retain the coach (William Voigt) as well as players who played then and also the Olympic team. We also have in mind to incorporate players from the local league.” The former D’ Tigers captain concluded.

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