Players of Nigeria’s women’s basketball team, D’Tigress, have blasted the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) and the federation’s former president, Musa Kida, over owed wages and have threatened to boycott the qualifying tournament for the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.
The D’Tigress players made the threat in a video that circulated on social media on Tuesday.
According to Ify Ibekwe, one of the team’s senior players, the players, coaches and team officials are being owed wages and allowances from both the NBBF and the Ministry of Sports.
“We are being owed USD 73,180 by the NBBF, USD 24,000 by the Ministry of Sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics grant and USD100,000 from donations from three banks in Nigeria,” Ibekwe stated.
The team also questioned their alleged neglect and marginalisation by past and present NBBF officials, despite winning the Women’s Afrobasket championship three times in a row in 2017, 2019 and 2021 respectively.
Speaking on the matter, Victoria Macaulay said the team “does not feel appreciated”, lamenting that no invitation has been extended to the team to visit President Muhammadu Buhari as a sign of recognition of their feat of winning three Afrobaskets in a row and qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Some of the players took direct shots at Kida, who was until recently the NBBF President. They claimed that he spewed lies concerning the payment of their wages and allowances, adding that he was never bothered about player welfare, their working conditions and the team’s operations, but only came around to celebrate after the team achieved a significant milestone.
Promise Amukamara said: “President of the NBBF, Musa Kida, said that the federation is not owing any players, officials or vendors. This is far from the truth. The last time we checked, our allowances, stipends, bonuses, training grants and donations made by banks for players and officials and volunteers still have not been paid.”
Another player, Ezinne Kalu, said: “Ever since our general manager and team manager resigned, we feel we are being marginalised. Our senior leadership, like the former president (Kida), never really shows up for camps or competitions to boost our morale and when we have significant concerns and issues that need to be addressed, when he does up he gives vague answers as if our concerns aren’t important to him. But when we win, they magically show up for photo-ops and celebrations to use for political gain.
“Musa Kida was not in Cameroon but somehow he showed up in Abuja to take pictures and to raise the trophy again for political gain.”
Adaora Elonu, the D’Tigress captain, stated the players’ conditions that must be met by the NBBF or Nigeria risk not having her best players for the FIBA qualifier.
Some of the conditions listed by Elonu include payment of all outstanding wages and allowances, enhancement of the team’s structure and operations, and better preparation for major competitions.
She said: “We demand the payment of the money owed the players, officials and other volunteers. We want adequate travel plans to competitions and a Team Manager for all team’s functions.
“If these demands are not met, with all due respect to the Presidency, NBBF and the Ministry of Sports, all D’Tigress players will not be reporting to the FIBA World Cup qualifiers in 2022 in February. We are one united voice.”