The recently concluded 54th session of the National Full Council Meeting of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), underlined the importance of sports panacea for ‘nation building’.
SWAN Full Council Meeting is the highest decision making organ of the nation’s sporting press and it comprises chairmen and secretaries of the association in the 36 states, including FCT. The meeting was primarily to review issues affecting the association and proffer solutions on how to develop sports in the country.
The meeting, which was held at the Hotel Presidential in Port Harcourt, Rivers State from May 14 to 18, 2018, ended with a call on the North East states’ governors to make use of sports as a veritable tool to end the continuous surge of insurgence in the region.
The council after a 4-day deliberation and reviewed of sports activities in the country, observed that the rise of insurgence in the North-east has affected the development in the area and there is need to revert to sports as a solution and a way to engage the youths.
In a communiqué released after the meeting it was said that: “Council noted with concern that the Boko Haram insurgency has hampered the growth of sports in the North East.
“As an association, we therefore call on state governors in the region to use sports as a tool for engaging youths in the area meaningfully.”
However, the council heaped praises on President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government for how far they have helped to prepare the Super Eagles for the World Cup in Russia but not without urged them to ensure prompt release of funds to the team, especially bonuses as promised.
“While acknowledging the promises made so far, Council urged the Federal Government and the Nigeria Football Federation to ensure prompt release of bonuses to the Super Eagles and avoid previous distractions occasioned by delay in releasing funds,” the communiqué read.
“We want to charge critical stakeholders to do the needful by ensuring that Nigeria put up a good performance in Russia.”
The Council further acknowledged with deep appreciation the financial commitment and efforts of the Rivers State Government under Nyesom Wike in contributing to sports development in the country, particularly the hosting of the meeting.
It also commended the role played by the SWAN leadership in the investiture of the Governor as the first recipient of Africa’s Power of Sports award at the AIPS Congress in Brussels, Belgium.
A university lecturer, Prof Peter Esuh, while presenting a paper titled “Sports Development and Nation Building” during the four day council meeting, described the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria as a major stakeholder in sports development and in nation- building.
He said the association has brought about the development and transformation of sports in Nigeria, especially in relation to employment, wealth and revenue generation for media houses, individuals, sports stakeholders and government.
According to him, “to understand the role of SWAN in nation building, we must appreciate our developmental strides and acknowledge sports indices to the growth of the country.
“The mainstay of Sports Writers Association in nation building must be assessed from its role in the overall development of sports in the area of partnership with local, state, federal and private concerns, contribution to sports policy development, professional and ethical issues, sports institutions, sporting infrastructure, sports programmes, facilities, funding, promotion and regulation of sports/regulatory institutions and enabling laws.
Esuh, who is also a Professor of Marketing Communications And Applied Rhetoric in the Department of Communication Arts, University of Uyo explained that SWAN’s activities have had direct and indirect bearing on the economy of Nigeria, in addition to helping to fight corruption in high places and exposing decay in our sporting polity.
He advocated for policies, laws and programmes that will protect sports journalists, among others.
“There should be enabling laws to protect the sports journalist and sports generally. The SWAN in partnership with the National Assembly should come up with a bill to establish a University of Sports in Nigeria. Sports has been identified as the second largest employer of labour and creator of wealth, establishing such a university as is found in the UK, India, United States etc., will expand the horizon of knowledge, impact on sports development and the general well- being of the country.
“Institutions of higher learning especially the universities should be encouraged to establish departments of sports, not necessarily physical and health education. Such will lead to the production of adequate manpower, infrastructure, facilities and a better standard of sports journalism.
“It behoves to insist that the sports journalist needs better working environment and welfare package; and encouragement from the industry to do well. There should be an increased budgetary allocation to sports, and a serious drive for private investment,” he stated.
He summed up by saying that “the vibrancy of our youth can properly be engineered through sports and sports journalism and those who are concerned with the propagation of sports are doing a great service to the internal and external reputation management of this country, such people should be rewarded appropriately.”
The president of SWAN, Mr Honour Sirawoo in his speech said the growth of SWAN depends largely on the support it gets from patrons while stressing that the present leadership of SWAN has worked hard to leave legacies that will enhance the quality of sports journalism.
Declaring the sesssion open, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike said sports play indispensable role in creating the essence of the country, adding that his administration will continue to fund sports because it is vital to social development.
Represented by the secretary to the Rivers State Government, Hon Kenneth Kobani, Governor Wike said without sports, there will be no united country.
He said: “I believe that you are aware that we have demonstrated our commitment to the development of Sports. “
According to him, the Rivers State Government recognises the pre-eminent role of sports towards the empowerment of the people.
The governor commended Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) for re-refining sports journalism to the extent that all Nigerians are proud.
He noted that Sports Unifies and has a way of creating the true essence od rationalism…
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