The SWAN Affairs: Reign of the Brambles

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By Fred Edore

Honours Sirawoo is the National Chairman of the Sports Writers Association. He has spoken to a number of people to sell his position for use on Social Media.

The thrust of his argument is that Mitchel Obi, the current AIPS-Africa is not a qualified member of SWAN and NUJ.

I have raised the following observations to help those discussing the matter, as I cannot be involved. Please note, however, that his effort to justify himself through this propaganda continues to do damage to integrity of SWAN.

Mitchel’s NUJ registration number is 1836. He was admitted since 1983 while we were still in secondary school. The record is with the NUJ and can be verified. Since then he has been meeting his membership obligations.

Ask them when and where was the screening of Mitchel Obi done to arrive at the declaration that his membership is invalid?

Was there a committee? Who are the members of the committee? When was the committee set up? Where did the committee sit? On what dates and times?

If not, is it right for Honours to have personally assumed the sole screener who now gives us his personal positions ? How do we verify those positions?

Why has National SWAN not issued an official statement signed by the Secretary, conforming that the organ indeed screened Mitchel Obi and found him wanting?

Why would issues affecting a body of professional journalists be subject to none ever official statement signed and made public by the body? Why is the explanation coming for the action of a media organ coming from an `anonymous’ source? It shows, there is a manipulation of the process.

Further on the issue of SWAN ID card: There is no SWAN member with a valid SWAN ID card across the whole of Nigeria right now. Mr Honours Sirawoo knows that and asking for SWAN ID is both stupid and even criminal of the president of SWAN.

Reason is all SWAN ID cards expired last year. No new cards have been issued. The process of renewal of membership or new registration is expect to start by this February when SWAN completes the Online portal for which it is to process a central registration.

So far, no official directive has been issued to the state chapters as per how the process will be.

Therefore, SWAN cannot be talking about verifying membership right now. The only possible way is to verify through the state chapters which have records of members.

The national body cannot sit up there and determine members because it has no direct followership. That is what the AIPS does. When people apply, it directs them to get their National bodies to confirm.

Since there is no currency in the life of SWAN IDs right now, the national can only clear from states about the currency of members, new or old.

Every person has the right to throw away or destroy an old ID card since it is no longer valid. It is only a criminal and lawless person that would seek to be presented an old ID card as Honours requested from Mitchel Obi.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Lagos chapter of SWAN held its last election in 2014. It’s 3-year-tenure circle completes by about November 2017.

That election was supervised by the NUJ and National officers of SWAN. Ahead of the election, the register of members was updated and approved by National SWAN and NUJ as the Voters List for that event.

That was the last time Lagos SWAN updated its register. The name of Mitchel Obi was in that record as a member from Mastersport International and Mitchel duly voted in that election.

Finally, please let Honour tell the world which meeting of the National Executive Committee of SWAN made the resolution to stop Mitchel. When was the meeting called? When and Where was the meeting held? Who and Who attended? Is there any minute of the meeting duly signed by relevant officials? As a matter of records.

These are matters of record. Honour is simply on ego trip and trying to fine his whim the coat of law. With the brambles, politics is more important than professionalism and practice…!

Several years back, Tony Ubani was a writer with the Vanguard Newspaper and Chairman of Lagos SWAN. He also became Deputy President of National SWAN.

A few years later when he wanted to contest for presidency of National SWAN, he was declared not a journalist by the brambles who controlled the politics. Today, Tony Ubani has risen and actively practicing as the Sports Editor of the prominent national daily, Vanguard.

Mitchel Obi is a nationally renowned and world acclaimed journalist. He has been celebrated from his days as a top line Editor at the prominent national daily, The Guardian, and a front line editor who joined in pioneering and nurturing of the Guardian Express, a forerunner for many evening times.

As a versatile journalist, he crossed to the electronics media in collaboration with other brilliant senior colleagues to serve viewers the highly popular Mastersports TV Sports magazine show on the national network of the Nigeria Television Authority.

He transferred the talent to run Sports Extra, a highly watched, highly regarded and long running sports programme on the Africa Independent Television (AIT).

He had been Vice-President and President of African Sports Journalists Union (ASJU), and through his services to the continent, our sports writing colleagues in other African countries voted him President of the African zone and Vice-President of the world body of sports journalists, AIPS.

Today he asks the national body of sports journalists (SWAN) to endorse his nomination for re-election to renew his mandate, even without any opponent across all other African countries, but not only did the national president of SWAN deny him, he wrote to the AIPS that Nigeria has no candidate and called the world president to declare that Mitchel Obi, the astute sports journalism professional and practitioner, is not a journalist.

The public has heard so much of needless arguments and counter arguments but by their fruits we shall know them.

Mitchel is a tall tree in sports journalism with visible great fruits to show for his practice.

When politics, by any strength of argument, takes precedence over professionalism and track record of performance, we are simply clothing folly with dignity.

We forbid that in Lagos SWAN, no matter how much mob or rent-a -crowd politics is goes around for, truth will remain the truth. ##

Edore, Chairman, Lagos State Sports Writers Association (SWAN) wrote in from Lagos.

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