Some call it the Stakeholders’ Conference, some call it the Stakeholders’ Meeting, while some call it the General Assembly. Regardless of what we choose to call it, we can all agree that the gathering is the first official event on the calendar of the Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF).
The gathering is attended by all “stakeholders” of basketball in Nigeria – local club owners, club managers, players, sponsors, coaches, referees, technical commissioners, statisticians, table officials, media representative etc. The event sets the tone for basketball activities for the calendar year as it at the gathering that proposed basketball activities will be announced.
The Presiden of the NBBF Tijjani Umar once explained that “The stakeholders meeting is not a repetitive yearly ritual, but necessary stock-taking and account rendering for all those entrusted with the federation’s duties as well as adoption of valid ideas and feedback.”
However, some people disagree. According to sport journalist Oni Afolabi; “Many have described the annual stakeholders meeting of the NBBF as a sheer waste of time and resources, an avenue for the NBBF President to ask questions which he would answer in return while blowing his rusty whistle to high heavens and friends meeting and sharing some liquor”
The question is - which of these descriptions is more accurate?
In my opinion, if the NBBF want to prevent the annual gathering from losing relevance, then it needs to focus more on implementation. Over the years, the same set of activities are announced but no practical steps are taken towards implementation or execution and the ideas die are buried only to be resurrected at subsequent meetings. Enforcement of the Code of Conduct for the basketball league, improved welfare of player including medical and insurance cover, and national championship are examples.
One of the announcements that was made during last year’s meeting was the full implementation of 3x3 basketball and that efforts were already underway. Asides a 3x3 exhibition game during the DSTV League finals, not much was done by the Federation to promote the form of the sport. Thanks to 3x3 basketball enthusiasts, a number of 3x3 events were held during the year such as the South South 3x3 Tour, the Lagos 3x3 Tour, the Megaptera 3x3 African Challenger, AdaMark 3x3 etc.
One key information that comes out the summit is the tip off date of the professional leagues – The DSTV Premier Basketball League and Zenith Bank Women’s Basketball League. The technical officers – referees, technical commissioners, statisticians, coaches and officials - also have their respective refresher courses during the event.
This year’s edition will hold in Abuja from Monday 30th January to Friday 3rd at the National Stadium Package B Abuja and the agenda is similar to prior years. What the NBBF needs to do is to start the event with an implementation report that shows what steps were taken in achieving all the proposed activities and what the outstanding action points are. The NBBF should also consider having a different summit for team owners, club General Managers and player representative so issues regarding the leagues and player welfare can be discussed and sorted. This will never be achieved at the annual gathering with the way it is currently set up.
If this is not done, the annual event might lose its relevance as the same set of issues will be discussed and it will become a repetitive yearly ritual; a jamboree.