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Nigeria reverses international basketball withdrawal

Nigeria’s government on Thursday reversed a decision to stay away from international basketball for two years on account of a long-drawn power tussle in the leadership of the sport in the country.

Top sports ministry official Ismaila Abubakar told reporters the decision from President Muhammadu Buhari came after the minister and other stakeholders lobbied for it to be rescinded.

In January, the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) staged two separate elections during which the incumbent Musa Kida emerged as the winner in one, while Igoche Mark was voted through in the other.

“President Buhari, in the overriding spirit of national interest, love for our youth, and in order to avoid sending basketball development into a long period of suspension, has approved the return of Nigeria to international basketball immediately,” Abubakar said.

However, he said the government has ordered the NBBF to resolve the issues which led to the withdrawal in the first instance.

Some of the issues will be for the parties in the crisis to reconcile and for an immediate review of the statutes that governs the running of the sport in Nigeria.

On May 12, the Nigerian government announced the immediate withdrawal of the country from all international basketball competitions for two years because of a lingering crisis that engulfed the sport.

The withdrawal has already cost the country’s women’s team their place at this year’s FIBA World Cup in Australia.

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