By; ISAIAH BENJAMIN
I read with amazement and disbelief the malicious and unfounded write-up by one Olajide Fashikun whose intent and purpose I believe, is to tarnish and smear the good image of the President of my Association, the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Mr Honour Sirawoo.
Ordinarilly, i would not have wasted my precious time responding to the write up, I found to be a cheap blackmail borne out of self inflicted grudges, but for the sake of righting the wrong perception, I feel obliged to clear doubts by putting the issues in their right perspectives, particularly that i was part of the birthday bash and parley which the assumed journalist quoted, even though his so called write up was based on a source he claimed attended the party.
It is obvious and apparently clear now that when we talk about quacks in Journalism, it is not only restricted to those practicing without requisite qualifications, even those who claim to have the requisite qualifications and still go ahead to publish stories from a source without necessarily balancing such stories also qualify to be called quacks in that context.
As a man well trained to respect elders, I don’t intend to classify Mr Fashikun in that class, but reporting the wrong thing in an occasion he was not part of and not balancing such information really puts me in doubt of where he really belongs.
It is rather unfortunate that Mr Fashikun has taken to the part of calling Mr Honour Sirawoo all manner of names on this website, www.gongnews.net, in one of the publications on that website, the SWAN President was reffered to as a mad man, arrogant, stupid and sensiless. All these is an affront on our association and the need to address this malicious and mischievous write ups cannot be as apt as now.
I am not only a proud member of SWAN, but a member of its Full Council; and among those that feels that the Association is bigger than all, and ridiculing the office of the President who is the face of the Association, or NEC when the statutes provides internal mechanism for addressing issues; is not, and can never be the best route to growth. This, however will not influence my reaction to the tissues of lies that Fashikun is selling.
Addressing the issues point blank, in the very recent write up by Mr Fashikun, he referred to the SWAN President as a drunk emperor and former Presidents of SWAN, who according to him “threatened to dissolve the Executive Councils of FCT and Lagos for opposing him on the incorporation of a new body unknown to the Constitution of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ)”.
He claimed his report to a source at the birthday bash organised for Mr Bayour Issa, a veteran reporter based in Ilorin, where according to him, Sirawoo made the assertion to dissolve the two chapters. In the same report, he claimed “Sirawoo has been under fierce attack from the two of the nations SWAN chapter which by practice are the largest and most active for the serial of offences and allegations levelled against him”.
I am not a spokesperson to our able President, but am obliged to respond to this unfounded allegations because, I was not just part of the birthday bash and parley with Honour Sirawoo, I gave the vote of thanks onbehalf of all the SWAN Chairmen and members in Illorin who covered the just concluded National Youth Games (NYG).
I therefore wish to state in very strong and categorical terms, that AT NO TIME IN THE SPEECH OF PRESIDENT SIRAWOO DID HE MENTIONED DISOLVING LAGOS AND FCT CHAPTERS of the association. It is therefore mischievous, malicious and totally false as reported by Mr.Fashikun and as credited to the President from his faceless source. Yes, it is true that Mr President talked about write ups from Lagos and FCT chapters and communiques, but never threatened to dissolve the chapters; he said, “SWAN is statutory in states across the country; individuals can detach from the Association, but chapters can’t, and so in any state were the leadership detaches, NEC will acknowledge those ready to attach as representatives of the Association” (Article 8 of the SWAN Statutes).
In my remarks to issues clarified by the President which he did as a mark of humility and respect to members present, I personally commended President Sirawoo for his demonstration of humility and commitment towards giving SWAN a face lift, national and international recognition, which was resoundly applauded by all members present, including those from the chapters mentioned. So, for someone to say or quote otherwise, it is rather unfortunate, and a shame.
Let me also say lest I forget, that in the same parley which was organized by a national ex- officio of the SWAN, Mr Alloy Chukwuemeke (ACC) to host sports writers covering the NYG and also celebrate Mr Bayo Issa, with over 50 sports journalists in attendance, the Secretary of the SWAN FCT chapter, Mr Ikenna was also in attendance, so if such statement was ever mentioned by the President, he could have kicked. So, you can imagine how Mr Fashikun wants to take unwarranted panadol for non-existing headache; that action to me is the opposite of wisdom demonstrated by him out of envy to a President that has showed immense capacity in the leadership of the Association.
The President in his speech clarified issues regarding the resignation of the former Secretary General, Suspension of the Deputy Secretary and registration of SWAN with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to the satisfaction of members present which comprises of State Chairmen, Secretaries and members from various chapters who were on ground covering the concluded NYG.
President Sirawoo also stated that the State Chapters of of the association is the creation of the national body and that it was statutory to have the.association represented in all the states including the federal capital territory in accordance to the SWAN status.
Let me make it clear that going forward, we will not allow persons or group of persons to attempt to want to destroy the good image the present crop of National SWAN under the pragmatic leadership of Honour Sirawoo is providing.
I wish to use this singular opportunity to call on Mr Fashikun to retrace his steps which is leading him astray and support the present leadership of SWAN or detach from the Association, or forever stop his mischievous write ups aimed ridiculing SWAN.
In anycase, am not surprised at Mr Fashikun’s style of smearing peoples image; a reason he is presently dragged to court by one Ruth David, Head of Women Football, NFF. In that suit, 50 million naira it was gathered is being demanded as compensation for defamation of character from him.
With this is recent unfounded write up, I won’t be surprised if yet another legal action is taken against him if perhaps that will begin to make him.reason sensibly at least for once.
I also call on well meaning individuals who may have come across the said write up or any other write ups by Mr Fashikun to beware of his mischief and fabrications always targeted at defaming and smearing peoples image.
I thank you all for reading. Let us continue to join forces together against those who want to pull our association down, and support those like Honour Sirawoo who are helping to build our association to the envy of many.
God bless you all.
Benjamin is the Kaduna State SWAN Chairman