I had the opportunity to witness recently the AGM of the National Basketball Federation. It has left me with a number of looming questions as to what really happened with such a thriving sport of years gone by prior the 2008 period to now?
The first thing that stood out was the obvious late start to the AGM, then there was the lack of proper attendance register to the meeting (The General Secretary had a note pad recording names) and also the late arrival of a number of members to the meeting.
The second thing that spoke ill of the meeting was the apparent inability or lack of will or desire by the Chairman to take control of the meeting even though he displayed some forcefulness and blunt insult to members. There were numerous moments of discent from the outset by members from the floor, constant interuptions by floor members and intermittently the chairman when submissions were being made. It was both painful and disturbing to witness having been intricately involved in the sport in prior period in an administrative capacity.
While the report the Chairman presented was quite detailed and outlined what transpired over the entire period His Executive was in office it had a fundamental flaw that not only fueled the distasteful and shameful contentious back and forth between the Chairman, past members of his Executive and other members from the floor. The failure to present a summary financial report proved disastrous. While the constitution does state that Financial report presented must be an audited one, it would have saved a lot of contention to preempt all questions around finances by putting out a summary of funds received and disbursed and the balance of funds to date. From the arguments that ensued, I concluded that the pre-meeting agenda by members was to remove the Incumbent from office for what they deemed dishonesty. The issue of the President and a number of members from his executive holding funds in their personal account was the area of concern. While I would agree that the funds were too long in the President’s account. As a fair person I conclude that the President did set out doing what was in the best interest of the Federation.
His good intentions and actions however were compromised by the lengthy delay to transfer the funds to one of the member’s account that was available barring the issue on dormancy that existed. I recognize his efforts to deal fairly with the organisationn even amidst his challenges and must applaud his openness and transparency (It could have gone differently had he not reported to his executive that he obtained access to funds through the funding body).
While the meeting was focused on the funds held in trust by the President, his General Secretary and 1st Vice President, there are questions that they fail to contemplate based on the report that was given. The Chairman alluded to the availability of funds upon his Executive coming to office, the state of the statutory requirement, the state of the facility and access to historical data to adv
ance the cause of the Federation.
It warrants a closer look at what transpired with the previous administration and the administration under the Chairman. My concern runs deep that noone even ventured to stop and think or address the concerns the Chairman alluded to in defending his actions and that of his Executive.
The timing of the departure from the Executive of the three members who spoke at the AGM in an accusatory manner towards the Chairman of an Executive that they were a part of for the majority of the executive term in office is also highly questionable. The charges laid boiled down to funds being held for an inordinately long period by the Chairman in his personal account.
There was no missappropriation as was intimated, and the actions of the Chairman in his capacity and by the other members with whom funds was entrusted were all sanctioned otherwise they could not be accesssed.
My conclusion on what transpired is this; The Chairman and his Executive did accomplish much that was over shadowed by the unfortunate situation that didn’t prove any form of illegal action on his part and the members of his Executive.
Did his actions retard the progress of the Federation? One should be honest enough to say no in light of what was accomplished in the time facing the many constraints. However, the lengthy period of the holding of the funds created an area of concern that should have dissipated once the funds that were held in Trust by him were safely return. I am fearful for the progress of the Federation given the fact that a number of the current membership are not very critical thinking but appeared already of a set mind and may have missed what appeared to be promising leads for the organization (once the chairman would have practiced a bit more restraint and more humility). I believe the voting shows that members did still have confidence in the Chairman, but were disappointed with the situation outlined.
The Federation should however take a look at the financial records carefully from the Prior periods that were alluded to by the meeting chairman and conduct the audits of the last two administrations to return the membership confidence in the federation and to put to bed the lingering questions and concerns that were raised.