There are two men who must be ashamed to see how low the national body of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) has degenerated, one is alive while the other is now late.
First is Sani Mohammed Zaria who plied his journalism trade with the New Nigerian Newspapers before he ascended the position of National SWAN chairman.

Zaria was deputy to Fan Ndubuoke in the 1990s and naturally felt he should succeed Ndubuoke. He had no problems doing so but after his first tenure, most members, especially from the ever vibrant Lagos chapter felt he didn’t live up to expectation and so drafted their own, Tony Ubani, to challenge him.

Zaria felt threatened because he knew he had no chance against an Ubani who changed the face of Lagos SWAN. Several meetings were called across the country and yours faithfully (Patrick Omorodion) was involved in some of them.
There was an agreement that Ubani should allow Zaria do a second and final term after which he would back Ubani as his successor. That agreement was never kept, why, because Zaria allegedly said he would teach Ubani a lesson for daring to challenge him and destabilise his tenure as chairman.

The election for a successor for Zaria was taken to Makurdi, Benue State and impostors were hired to represent authentic sports writers who could not attend the election, to vote out Ubani and instal one Mr. Olu Amadasun.
Despite the fraud, Amadasun only beat Ubani by a very slim margin, just three votes. Lagos made attempt to protest but later saw reasons, all to allow peace reign in the Association, hoping to fight another day.

So when Amadasun’s first tenure ended and because most members saw how poorly he performed, (you know when a child fails in a class, the best is to allow him repeat the class) {emphasis mine}. Ubani was drafted in again to challenge for the position. The venue of the election was taken farther up north-west, Yola, to discourage members from the south who were believed to be Ubani loyalists from attending.

Amadasun became jittery and did an abracadabra with Umaru Suleiman, the chairman of the electoral committee. What Suleiman did in Yola would make INEC chairman, Maurice Iwu, a saint by every standard. Ubani was disqualified by the Suleiman committee. Reason. Ubani is not a sports writer, they claimed!

There was commotion at the venue of the election and Amadasun and his cohorts invited the police to intimidate all the Ubani supporters. When they would not bulge, the election was suspended and all the delegates went back to their hotels that night.

Like the (Bassey Ikpeme) {emphasis mine} judgement in the thick of night when ABN went to court to stop the 12th June 1993 elections, Suleiman held a Kangaroo election in Amadasun’s hotel room and returned him as chairman of National SWAN. Ubani supporters protested and at the end of the day the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) waded in, appealing to Ubani to allow peace reign. So fraud was given an official stamp and since then SWAN has been run with its head upside down.

Suleiman later apologised for his misdeed in Yola when some of us met at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abeokuta some months after during a national assignment. We forgave him but he died a few weeks later in Kano. His soul is resting now but I know he would have been ashamed to see how the regime he helped instal took SWAN back hundreds of years.

Amadasun’s tenure expired last November but he and his ilks systematically pushed it to this month (April 2009). Instead of allowing a level playing field, he wants to act like his predecessors and instal his own candidate. Saidu Abubakar, I learnt is that candidate. Saidu is a gentleman but for allowing a man like Amadasun to back him, he may just kiss the election goodbye because Amadasun is like Obasanjo, who many will not want to do business with.

We hear the Amadasun led National EXCO wants to circumvent the rules and regulations of SWAN by allowing candidates to be endorsed by anybody from any part of the country all because of a favoured candidate from the FCT chapter (Andrew Abbah who was popularly impeached by Congress for constitutional breaches) {mine}. The normal practice is that candidates for national offices must be endorsed by two or three members of their state EXCO, anything short of this is another fraud in the making and Amadasun must not be allowed to go away with this.

SWAN members from all over the country, whichever side they belong, must stand up and make sure that rules are not bent to favour special or anointed candidates. Let the best candidates emerge so that SWAN can be alive again for the benefit of us all and not a few selfish individuals who feed fat on our collective destiny. A word is enough for the wise.
Olajide Ayodeji Fashikun,
Director, Sports Development & Marketing,
Nigeria Sports Development Fund Inc.,
NICON Luxury, Suite 59, Area 11, Abuja-Nigeria.

P.O. Box 8863, Wuse 2,

Telephone: +234-805-362-2797.

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