Members of Nigeria’s national female basketball team, D’Tigress, have threatened to boycott the FIBA World Cup qualifiers in Serbia if the sports authorities in Nigeria refused to pay their outstanding financial entitlements.
The team has been owed outstanding bonuses and allowances since the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup in Tenerife, Spain, and efforts to get full payment have been futile, leaving players and officials frustrated.
Though in October 2021, the Ministry of Sports made attempts to resolve the dispute between the players and former board of Nigeria Basketball Federation led by Ahmadu Musa Kida over bonuses and money donated by corporate organisations in Nigeria ahead of the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo, Japan, the players rejected the proposed part payment of debts owed them, insisting on receiving all their entitlements.
Following the failure of the sports authorities to resolve this issue, the team in a New Year message to fans has threatened not to be a part of the World Cup qualifiers in Serbia if the outstanding allowances and bonuses were not paid to players and officials in full.
The team said, “Since the conclusion of the hearing at the beginning of November, no line of communication or responses have been received by D’Tigress from the House, Ministry of Sports nor Musa Kida concerning the repayment of the debts.
“More than seven weeks have elapsed since the chairman’s decision for the former NBBF President, Kida, to settle the players and officials’ debt of D’Tigress, while the ministry completes the Olympics training grant balance, yet no engagement.
“We are sending a reminder to all involved including the Ministry of Sports, Musa Kida, House of Representatives and FIBA concerning these debts.
“Adaora Elonu, our representative, can be a bridge for communication. However, no official communication has been established through her either.
“With the FIBA World Cup qualifiers approaching in Serbia, we stand our ground and will not be scrambled into competition last minute.”
Recall that in October 2021, a report by SaharaReporters exposed how officials of the Ministry of Sports failed to distribute $100,000 (N41.1million) allowances donated by three banks to D’Tigress for their Tokyo 2020 Olympic participation.
A member of the team revealed that their allowances, bonuses and training grant worth $4,900 had also not been paid.
She said, “The last time we checked, some of our allowances, bonuses and training grants have not been paid. All our accounts numbers have been submitted but still no remittance. Donations made by banks for players, officials, volunteer stipends etc. dating all the way back to 2018.
“They forget we all have a relationship and do communicate; $500 each 2018 FIBA World Cup for players and officials; $1,000 each for finishing final 8 in FIBA World Cup; $1,000 each bonus for winning AfroBasket in Senegal for 2019 players and officials.
“$300 – $400 each Mozambique Olympic Qualifier allowance balance, were supposed to be paid $100 per day; $2,000 each training grant balance from Tokyo Olympics, players only. The $100,000 donated by three Nigerian banks to all the players and officials that made D’Tigress Olympics qualification possible final roster. The men also got $100,000 assigned to them, the total was $200,000.
“Miscellaneous expenses by players and officials; the full breakdown has been submitted to the outgoing Basket Ball President and the honourable minister, Sunday Dare.
“With all due respect to the association leadership, the Presidency, the Ministry and NBBF administration old and new, if these monies are not paid before the next qualifier of the next tournament in February 2022, FIBA World Cup, the entire D’Tigress team will not show up in camp. We are all saying this as one unit and one voice.”