Solomon Dalung, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, said on Saturday he would like to be remembered as the minister who sanitised sports administration in Nigeria by democratising the operations of federations.
Dalung stated this in his address to delegates at the 2019 NBBF Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Stakeholders’ Forum held in Abuja.
The minister said that notwithstanding, that even his critics would admit that he brought legitimacy to the leadership structures of the various sports federations.
“When I was appointed, many felt I wasn’t the right person for the job. I wasn’t taken seriously and I was considered too unassuming.
“But I wish to be remembered as someone who came to democratise Nigeria’s sports, thus leading it to greater success,” he said.
Over the last two years, Nigeria has witnessed rapid ascendancy in basketball, with the women’s team winning the 2017 Afrobasket Women tournament and becoming the first African side to reach a FIBA World Cup quarter-finals.
The men’s national team also finished runners up in the 2017 Afrobasket Men tournament and became the first team to qualify for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Dalung attributed these successes to the effort of his ministry.
“I am impressed by the achievements of the NBBF. In 2017, we began the democratisation of our sports federations.
“The successes and achievements of the NBBF under the present board have validated our decision. The achievements are there for all to see,” Dalung said.
On the NBBF, which has been rocked by a lingering leadership crisis since parallel elections into its board were conducted in 2017, Dalung urged the Musa Kida-led board to seek reconciliation and bring all stakeholders back to the fold.
“I appeal to you to extend a hand of fellowship to aggrieved stakeholders and explore avenues to reach out to them because they are still stakeholders and partners,” Dalung said.
The minister also urged world basketball governing body (FIBA) to disregard any insinuation that the 2017 election into the NBBF board lacked credibility.
“That someone lost or won an election is not a parameter for measuring the success of an election. It is normal for someone to lose or win an election.
“It is normal to disagree, but do you have to destroy what you want to govern because of your disagreement?” Dalung asked rhetorically.
The 2019 NBBF AGM is expected to ratify a new constitution as one of the conditions laid down by FIBA in resolving the federation’s leadership crisis.
Dalung expressed his belief that ratifying the new constitution was key to attracting investment into the sport.
“The democratisation of the NBBF in itself is incomplete without an instrument of authority, which is the constitution.
“A functional governing structure will even encourage sponsors to come in because it is the vision of this administration for sports to become a revenue generating sector,” he said.
The NBBF AGM is attended by delegates from the 36 states of the federation as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
There were goodwill messages from the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), FIBA and state basketball associations.