By John Ikani
A viral video by Nigeria women’s national basketball team, D’Tigress recounting the many sins of impropriety allegedly perpetrated by the Nigerian Basket Ball Federation (NBBF) in cahoots with the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development (FMYSD) isn’t another verse of athletes’ book of lamentations.
It is, on the contrary, an articulate fearless resistance mounted in protest against the flagrant alienation of monies owed to D’Tigress. Huge sums of money the team seek to possess without the doting and bootlicking approach Nigerians are known to adopt when demanding what’s rightfully theirs from authorities, for fear of intimidation.
In the video, members of the team, armed with stern eloquence and fearless demeanour took turns to accuse the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare of diverting the sum of $100,000 donated to the team by three commercial banks and $24,000 Tokyo Olympics grants. They also called out the President of the NBBF, Musa Kida for not paying them $73,118 in allowances/bonuses
The team which recently won a historic 3rd Consecutive Afrobasket Title title in September, ultimately warned that they will boycott the 2022 FIBA World Cup if monies owed to them among other critical issues raised were not addressed.
For the sake of our collective sanity, I deem it fit not to dwell on what the sham called the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development ought to be and how its present minister, Sunday Dare is in many ways controversial like his predecessor Solomon Dalung. Likewise, it’s best the thought train of this column is not derailed to what the NBBF has been reduced to under its current president, Musa Kida.
It’s rather apt we dwell on the fact that living in Nigeria has conditioned many to believe they have imaginary rights that cannot be leaned on in the face of intimidation from all sorts of oppressors including government officials.
From the video, it’s an open secret that the bulk – if not all – of players in D’Tigress team were recruited abroad and don’t reside in Nigeria. In other words, they grew up in countries with functional institutions, had quality education and the right amount of exposure required to deal with wilder worlds.
Many can easily point to the foregoing as a cogent explanation for the disappointment D’Tigress felt, and back it up with sad commentaries that fail to interrogate whether Nigerians at home know their rights and stand up for them, especially the right to demand transparency and accountability.
It is a known fact that most Nigerians – bar none the educated and highly educated – don’t know their rights over certain matters endemic to our nascent democracy but are quick to agree that Nigeria is a dictatorship with a democratic front.
In their hackneyed view of the state of the nation’s democracy, they fail to realise that we owe it to ourselves to build the nation we desire by demanding transparency and accountability. It is worthwhile to note that many sports men and women living in Nigeria were like D’Tigress, denied of what’s rightfully theirs but have been cowed into silence while the great multitude of citizens not directly affected believe having an “I don’t care” attitude is okay.
As the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy reminds us: “The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”
Also, the words of American statesman and civil rights activist, John Lewis will continue to remain timeless until we get things right in Nigeria! Indeed, “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.”