NIGERIA : Nigeria not qualified to host Africa, says Skambo

ABUJA (2011 Afrobasket for Men) – Even as most Nigerian basketball stakeholders are still in pains over the failure of the country to win the hosting right for the 2011 Africa Nations basketball Championship, former D’Tigers star player Skambo Morrison has said Nigeria is not qualified to host the 2011 Championship.

Last Saturday, Africa basketball ruling body FIBA Africa awarded the hosting rights to Cote d’Ivoire after the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) was said to have pulled out of the race citing the recent dissolution of the federal cabinet as one of the reasons for their withdrawal.

Nigeria was unable to provide financial guarantees in the amount of €1.5million which FIBA Africa demanded from all countries bidding for the right to host the tournament.

Speaking to Trustsports on Tuesday in Abuja, former basketball star Skambo said Nigeria had nothing on the ground to warrant bidding for such a major championship. He said it is a pity that, while a country like Angola is thinking of hosting the whole world, Nigeria – which claims to be the giant of Africa – could not clinch the hosting right for a continental championship.

Skambo, who once captained the Nigerian junior national team before he went on to feature prominently in the senior national team, said the country lacks the necessary facilities for hosting such a competition and maintained that even for the poorly-organised national league in the country, there are no adequate facilities.

“We do not qualify to even bid to host the continental championship,” he said.

“Even if we were awarded the hosting right, where are the facilities? We are talking about a continental championship that requires modern facilities. Apart from Nestle Milo and Ahmadu Bello University which have wooden basketball floors, where else can we find such facilities?”

He said that successive leaderships of the Nigeria Basketball Federation did not do anything in terms of developing the facilities which would make it easy for the country to be awarded such a hosting right.

The former international therefore urged the present leadership of the NBBF to leave a lasting legacy by ensuring that ultra-modern basketball facilities are constructed across the country.

“If we insist that we deserve the hosting right for the 2011 Africa Championship, let us ask salient questions and be sincere with ourselves,” he added.

“Where are the facilities? Do we have enough wooden basketball courts? What about ultra-modern projectors and cameras? Does it mean we wanted to just collect the hosting right and then embark on another fire brigade exercise?”

Skambo who is now a national game commissioner stressed that the time to begin preparation for another bid is now and it should start with provision of the necessary facilities.

“Let us humble ourselves and begin preparations in earnest. If we want to host future championships, we must start building the needed facilities now”.

By Olusegun Ikuesan
FIBA Africa