The book is a masterpiece an easy-to-assimilate description of the life journey of Oliver (Babatunde, Bala, Bassey) Berdeen Johnson, popularly called Coach OBJ. It is a vivid expression of the uniqueness of OBJ: a rare legend, God-fearing, extremely humble, cherished treasure and a hero in Basketball; whose immeasurable curiosity propelled him to leave his comfort zone in the United States of America (USA) against all odds to fulfill his desire to see the world beyond the USA and to make his mark positively wherever he found himself.
Eight American citizens of Nigerian descent have been drafted into the professional National Basketball Association of the United States on Wednesday.
This was made known by the NBA on its Twitter handle on Wednesday.
The annual draft sees NBA teams choose from the best young talents across the United States.
The Nigerians are Precious Achiuwa, Udoka Azubuike, Isaac Okoro, Onyeka Okongwu, Daniel Oturu, Zeke Nnaji, Desmond Bane and Jordan Nwora.
He was picked by the Miami Heat. The 21-year-old player was born in Nigeria and grew up in Port Harcourt.
According to the BBC, he said he had dreamt that one day he would end up playing for a great organization.
“My hope was to end up in a great organisation, and thank God my prayers got answered and I’m part of a great organisation,” Achiuwa said.
“I watched the NBA Finals, and thankful that they’re welcoming me to Miami. I think I can add a lot to the table, like add a lot of aggression and grittiness.”
Like Precious, he was born in Lagos before moving to the US. The 21-year-old centre will be playing for the Utah Jazz.
He said he was “so excited to play alongside Rudy (Gobert)”
“A defensive specialist, that’s mostly what I did at Kansas. I had a similar role to affect the game defensively. So I’m excited to learn from him.”
Isaac was born in Atlanta, Georgia to Nigerian parents. The 19-year-old small forward was part of the USA’s winning team at the 2018 Under-17 Basketball World Cup in Argentina. He was chosen by Cleveland Cavaliers.
“It feels great to be the first Nigerian in this draft to be drafted,” he said after being picked.
“It’s also just a blessing. My mom always tells me to keep that Nigerian pride. Even though I wasn’t born in Nigeria, I still got Nigerian blood. So it’s just having that on my shoulders.”
He was born in California to Nigerian parents.
The 19-year-old shooting guard, who has been selected by the Atlanta Hawks, was a high school teammate of third pick LaMelo Ball at Chino Hills in California.
“I want to win a championship. That should be everyone’s goal, to win a championship that everyone wants to win,” Okongwu insisted.
“Myself, I just want to be able to get better, be able to be the best that I can be, continue to work hard, have a great work ethic.”
He was born to Nigerian parents who are pentecostal ministers in Minnesota, with his father Francis a former table tennis player for Nigeria.
The 21-year-old, set to end up at the LA Clippers after he was originally picked by the Minnesota Timberwolves, who immediately traded him for the New York Knicks before being moved on again.
The 19-year-old Zeke was born to a Nigerian father and American mother. He played college basketball for the Arizona Wildcats and was picked by the Denver Nuggets.
“I’ve been working a lot during these quarantine times, and I feel like I’ve made a lot of improvements,” Nnaji explained.
“I’ve added 20 pounds of muscle. I’ve really improved my jump shot and shooting the three-pointer well.
“I feel great. My body feels explosive. I feel quick. I’m just excited to do whatever I can to help our team win.”
The 22-year-old, who will be playing for Boston Celtics, was raised in Indiana with a Nigerian father and American mother.
“You know, I feel like I bring a mature approach. I bring a mature, consistent approach, both on and off the floor, and I think that’ll be beneficial early on,” he said about the prospect of playing in the NBA.
Jordan, who was born to a Nigerian father Alexander and American mother Amy, was part of the Nigerian team that played at the 2019 Men’s World Cup.
The 22-year-old is a member of the US’ senior men’s basketball team, otherwise known as D’Tigers.
His father was Nigeria’s head coach at the World Cup (now the country’s assistant coach) and the duo became the first Nigerian son and father to be part of a Nigerian national team side at the same time.
Jordan is also Nigeria’s highest scorer in a single match after registering 36 points in a 2019 World Cup qualifier in Lagos.
“To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be in the position I’m in today. I’ve come a long way since high school. I didn’t think I’d be able to play at a level like Louisville,” he said before the draft.
Profit and Win – “The BB4P system for grass-roots youth development and job creation” by Coach OBJ and BB4P Officials is a book on how to establish and operate a Basketball for peace program successfully (a step by step guide detailed by the founder of the program).
BB4P’s purpose was, and still is, to use the Game of Basketball to attract “at-risk” Youth away from violent conflicts.
BB4P’s concept design is to:
Designate specific Basketball facilities within volatile areas as Peace Zones whereby no type of violent behaviour will be tolerated and where Youth from all ‘backgrounds, ethnicities, religions’ assemble daily for practices and other community development activities for Peaceful co-existence.
Encourage Saturday competition on each Peace Zone or between Peace Zones and expand the Peace Zone to a larger community Peace Zone (Centre) that will include many other Sports and Community events..
Establish Peace Clubs in a minimum of three (3) Secondary Schools surrounding each Peace Zone to sensitize their fellow-students about PEACE and to engage in Community Out-Reach Projects for PEACE.
Support and award verifiable success stories of BB4P participants on a competitive basis.
Encourage “BUY-INS” from every source interested in being part of the Nigerian Peace Zone Network.
BB4P has transformed many violent prone individuals into Peace Makers (Facilitators).
The First National BB4P Peace Zone and Peace Club Championship (October – December, 2006) employed 1770 Youth from 36 Peace Zones plus officials for their active participation in the three (3) months championship (see our BB4P Brochure ‘The Journey thus far’).
If BB4P could host this National BB4P Championship twice a year more youth would be employed, many more would be encouraged to go to school while others would use their skills to join professional basketball teams and other Peace facilitating organizations.
Peace Zones are being encouraged to register as NGOs thus making them sites for growth to provide more opportunities for our Youth in their various communities. BB4P believes that USAID/IFESH/CALM should award ten (10) to twenty (20) scholarships of N5,000 – N15,000 to promising youths attached to each Peace Zone. The future success stories of these award winning youth will provide adequate skills training that will outshine any amount of concept papers on youth skill acquisition training that IFESH could ever request, plus the cost of implementation will be financially far less.
The success of BB4P so far leads us to believe that sustainability is inevitable as more individual, agencies such as government and private businesses ‘buy-in’, thus providing additional employment for “at-risk” youth, reducing violent conflicts, increasing community development as the network of BB4P Peace Zones and Peace Clubs grow.
As of now, there are not enough Peace Zones or Peace Clubs established in the 5 Targeted States, Cities, LGA or Communities that have been affected by ‘violent conflict’ to sustain a Community based Peace Initiative.
Peace Zones are Community based ‘safe places’ where the Communities gather daily to enjoy Basketball and Peace making activities.
Peace Zones are used as ‘sites’ to identify Youth for more ‘training’ by USAID/IFESH/CALM & BB4P
Peace Clubs are sensitizing ‘students’ about and for Peace and through their various ‘out-reach projects’ sensitizing their communities about the need for PEACEFUL Co-existence.
Peace Zones are registering with their Local Government Areas, or States as NGOs and ‘co-operatives’ to initiate economically viable activities for success.
The BB4P “Fund Raising Cards” gives each Peace Zone and Peace Club a means to acquire some funds for their activities.
BB4P Peace Clubs have been recognized by the Plateau State Commissioner of Education to the extent that Peace Clubs have been made compulsory in all the Plateau State secondary schools. We believe every State should follow-suit.
The name BB4P has attracted a lot of attention both in the media and the Basketball Community. If exploited to its full potential of having Bi-annual State and National BB4P ‘Competitions’ many more Youth stand to profit from their ‘sweat’.
The most relevant factor about the Peace Zones as expressed by the “Founders” is the networking that should make every Peace Zone to compete against another Peace Zone, a minimum of once in every month.
The BB4P Nigeria Network is now made-up of 5 States with requests from 6 more States to join.
The BB4P Africa Network is yet to be formed but it is our desire to see it established in the near future because PEACE must reign and communities affected by violent conflict must find ways to heal.
10 PEACE ZONES AND 30 PEACE CLUBS (minimum) PER STATE
Our experiences thus far (4 years) have convinced us that a minimum of 3 BB4P Peace Zones each in 3 different Cities or Towns in each of the BB4P States are necessary for growth, development, sustainability and for the ‘message of PEACE to be spread continuously at the ‘grassroots’ level in the various violent prone Communities. Obviously, this will encourage more ‘buy-ins’ in these States and other States to join BB4P and establish their own Peace Zones.
Already the Plateau State Commissioner of Education has made it compulsory for Peace Clubs to be formed in Schools in his State and BB4P is only having a presents in 2 Cities (Jos & Shendam/Yelwa). This is indeed another ‘testimony’ of the success of the BB4P Project and future possibilities.
It is our belief that the Nigeria BB4P Network and the future African BB4P Network of Peace Zones when fully functional, with consistent Competitions will provide many opportunities for our African Youth to prosper while helping to bring and maintain PEACE in our ‘so called’ poverty, war-torn AFRICA.
“PEACE ZONES are not only solving CONFLICTS but also encouraging and bringing more development in BASKETBALL. The youths are happy and occupied with Basketball away from evil, trouble and hooliganism. The seating for players constructed by BB4P is another achievement, however, the message of peace is most important and should be preached to all NIGERIANS”. – Johnson Ochigbo.
“I started to play Basketball in my secondary school and just fell in love with it. Later after finishing school, some friends invited me to be playing in our neighborhood playing ground, which I did and soon began to regularly go. I always knew I was doing well as a player, but it was not until BB4P program came that I realized my full potentials and how to keep working hard becuase of the competition around. As a basketball player I learned a lot from the program and got to meet many important people in basketball that I never knew. It also paved a way for me to be invited to the radar hoops camp and now I have been selected to join the festival camp team for my state. The BB4P program has given the opportunity to be on the path that I have always dreamt of which is to further improve my basketball skills with the hope of playing professional someday. I’m very thankful and glad I was opportune to be a part of the program. It was a great privilege for me . I look forward to participating in up coming BB4P programs.” – Harry Ezenibe.
“For the message of PEACE to continue and penetrate deep into our communities BB4P need to give out more BB4P T-shirts, include more women and host, periodical PEACE AWARENESS CAMPAIGN at each PEACE ZONE” – Edward Tox.
“The Y.M.C.A. is situated at the heart of one of the most volatile areas in Kaduna, where riots always take place but BB4P made Peace to reign in the area”. – Halidu Mohammed.
“Coaches are having problems of bringing down the number of boys in each PEACE ZONE because everyday youth hear more about BB4P and they all want to join”. – BB4P Coaches.
“The youth are looking forward to more from BB4P, but most importantly they have embraced PEACE in place of violence, they prefer to-talk-it-over instead of exchanging blows (fighting)”. – Aliku Saeed.
“BB4P rings its bell and sings her songs of PEACE for Youth in areas of CONFLICT, so that they can resist being used to cause chaos in this country”. – Ademola Adigun.
“All the PEACE ZONES are rehabilitated and fully utilized with more and more YOUTH turning up daily wishing to join BB4P ”. – Co-ordinators.
“From the workshop, CONFLICT was defined as an opportunity for change or danger. Thus the need to control and manage CONFLICT so that only change occurs. Understanding this important fact provided all of us the opportunity to improve ourselves”. – Umar Bala.
“For the first time I witnessed a PEACEFUL Basketball Match without players boxing themselves nor spectators causing commotion, the benefit of BB4P are unbelievable”. – Mustapha Gagari.
“I have understood that ‘sports’ is not-a-do-or-die-affair, it’s not I must win by force affair e.t.c. Also I learnt how to accept defeat when I lose without causing CONFLICT and to enlighten my assistants, players and spectators not to cause CONFLICT by fighting or damaging properties”. – Sanusi Shuaibu.
“BB4P is very much in line with the present administration’s resolve to bring about peaceful co-existence among the teeming youth in the state through sports” – Abdullahi Ibrahim (D.O.S., Kano).
“The icing-on the cake was when BB4P providing playing shoes for the players. It was incredible, fans, spectators, and passersby who witnessed the event could only say one thing ALLAH YA SAKA, which means MAY GOD BLESS”. Umar I. Bala.
“If BB4P is sustained in keeping with its present age group levels, it will not only avoid CONFLICT but would be desired to feed the NIGERIA age group National Teams”. – Tari Preh.
“BB4P is a long awaited program for KANO, it has trained CHRISTIANS and MUSLIMS the spirit of Brotherhood and Anger Control. As a result our YOUTH have acquired more Basketball and Conflict Management Skills and have competed without crisis”. – Ado Ahmadu.
“The youth were fully engaged throughout the program, potentials were identified, improvement of play and PEACE reigned. The credibility of BB4P is the understanding it made between players, coaches, spectators, and officials for PEACE” – Bala Uman.
“All participants have understood that an unpeaceful atmosphere is an inhabitable atmosphere, therefore they are willing to be ambassadors of Peace, reflecting a spirit of sportsmanship, love, respect, tolerance and peace”. – Ola Gani.
“Many players are proud to be part of the BB4P Program. After the games the Conflict Managers assembled both winning and losing teams and spectators to preach PEACE and drink Coke. This has made officiating easier”. – Bulus Audi.
“BB4P is an excellent means of youth integration. They are becoming more and more interested in listening to the Conflict Management talks and participating”. – Martina Kure (Mrs.)
“BB4P changed everything, it was like a DAY DREAM, from poverty and a waste disposal area to billionaires. Everything had changed from old to new, new BASKETBALLS, a new standard size Basketball Court, Up-rights and rings changed the nature of the KANO, Zoo Road PEACE ZONE. New players and old ones that had left all came trooping back because of the BB4P Project”. – Mustapha Gagari.