Some journalists in Delta state have rejected a press release mailed from the state ministry of information on the response of the chairman, local organizing committee, Solomon Ogba, of the Africa Senior Athletics championship competitions just concluded at the Stephen Keshi Stadium Asaba.
The release tagged: “CAA ASABA 2018 FALLOUT: Abati article unfortunate, disgraceful-LOC Chairman”, was sent Tuesday evening by the media assistant, Sam Ijeh, to the commissioner of information, Patrick Ukah, at about 6:24pm.
The journalists, in their various responses to the release, said they were not ready to defend Ogba. “I saw your report but I am not ready to defend Solomon Ogba. Let SWAN whom he preferred over us during the event defend him,” one of the journalists said.
They called on Ogba to beckon on the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Delta Chapter which he gave priorities, abandoning other reporters who covered the five-day event to defend the issues raised in the opinion article of Dr. Reuben Abati.
Another journalist wrote on his Facebook handle accusing SWAN of being selfish, saying: “SWAN Delta state should note that sports writing is just a beat and that tomorow they can be posted to political platform, another kind of beat.
“So, feeling superior at the just concluded CAA Asaba 2018 over other resident journalists who also covered the event is uncalled for. A journalist is a journalist whether you write sports, crime, politics, entertainment or law. Do not create any division because who bele full today go hungry tomorrow.”
In his response another said: “Hmmm…don’t sound like the proverbial fowl that left its killer and kept twisting its neck in protest against the ground. Yes, members of Delta SWAN of about 20 members got N20,000 each as honorarium for a 5-day long tournament and you want to crucify them. So what would you do to the ASAC-LOC (Media Subcommittee), who I learnt got a N150million vote for about 200 journalists who attended the event?
It would be recalled that Reuben Abati, a respected media guru, on his website: www.reubenabati.com.ng, lashed out on the LOC for alleged shoddy work, saying: “Shame on all the local organisers of the just concluded 21st Africa Senior Athletics Championships held in Asaba, Delta state tagged #Asaba2018 for spending N4 billion of the Nigerian taxpayers’ money to procure disgrace, and embarrassment for Nigeria, bring odium unto the country, attract the contempt of other African countries and cause an international relations disaster.”
“In typical Nigerian fashion, the local organisers, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) led by Solomon Ogba has been busy trying to blame others and dodge responsibility. One excuse that I have heard is that nobody should blame the Delta state government because all it tried to do was to help Nigeria save face. How?
“We are told that the championship was meant to be hosted originally by Lagos state, but Lagos state changed its mind and rather than allow the championship to be taken to another country, Delta state stepped in. This is a very stupid excuse.
“The Ivorian athlete quoted above is therefore right: “If you are not ready to organise something please don’t….” says Marie Josee Ta Lau. Governor Okowa promised everyone that Delta State will host a superlative event. He even visited the Stadium to assess constructions.
“He failed Nigeria. Sporting events are used to transform communities and build infrastructure, generate jobs and activity and leave footprints behind. In organising Asaba 2018, Nigeria squandered N4 billion and got insults in return. What a country!,” Reuben Abati lamented.
But in the statement from Thomas Olukayode, Ogba described Reuben Abati’s description of the championship organization as a disgrace as unfortunate and disgraceful.
Ogba said: “Dr. Abati, a respected journalist, has a right to his opinions but to describe the organization of CAA Asaba 2018 as a disgrace shows he is acting in a manner that suggests that he is being used.”
According to Ogba, it is regrettable that Abati wrote authoritatively about a subject he has no first hand information on.
“He was not in Asaba, so why write authoritatively about an event you did not witness? I am sure if he had contacted his junior colleague, Olukayode Thomas, who is our head of media, he would have gotten some firsthand information and clearer insight.
He could have called to check his facts and would have saved himself all the embarrassment the falsehood he penned is causing. He wasn’t even ready to give the organizer the benefit of the doubt. It is lamentable that a writer of Abati’s status in the media is relying on unverifiable information available on online media to write a sensitive article.’’