By Olukayode Babalola
Monday’s parallel congresses held by two factions of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) are illegal, an official of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) said on Tuesday.
Wilson Bako, Vice President of Zone D, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), said in Lafia that the congresses, which were held in Port Harcourt and Abuja, should be disregarded.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that two sets of SWAN national officials emerged at the separate elective congresses to pilot the affairs of SWAN at the national level.
The congress in Abuja elected current Edo Chairman Ahmed Aigbona as President unopposed, with Mike Oboh also emerging unopposed as Secretary-General alongside other officials.
Also, the other congress in Port Harcourt, held almost simultaneously, returned Honour Sirawoo as National President through a voice vote, with other officials also elected unopposed.
Both congresses were held contrary to NUJ’s directive, which had asked that both events be suspended pending when issues surrounding the conduct of the elections were resolved.
Bako told NAN that NUJ’s stand on the matter still stands and both congresses are illegal.
“This is because issues which led to the factionalisation of the Association and the emergence of the two factions have not been resolved.
“But it is unfortunate, in the sense that SWAN members exercised a sense of disrespect to constituted authority.
“The national body of NUJ, which each member of SWAN must be a member of before contesting as a SWAN official, gave a directive which has now been disregarded.
“The directive was that since there were petitions to be sorted out every faction should halt any further action. That is, there should not be any election pending when those petitions are sorted out.
“But unfortunately, the two factions went ahead and conducted elections in Port Harcourt and Abuja. Each one emerged with their officials. Both of them are illegal. I now see a situation whereby SWAN has
entered a problem it will hardly come out from,” he said.
Bako however expressed optimism that the NUJ President, Chris Isiguzo, would rally both factions to a meeting to hold constructive discussions which would resolve the division in SWAN.
“I know that the NUJ President is an intelligent person. He is someone who knows the NUJ Constitution very well. At the end, he will have to call the two factions to come for a round table discussion. But, for now, those elections conducted yesterday are null and void.’’
Bako expressed hopes that proper elections would be conducted after the discussion.
“But as long as they remain as factions, I will suggest that all of them should be expelled from NUJ. It is unfortunate that people can be so desperate, lawless and reckless because they want power,” he said.
The NUJ vice-president warned that unless the two factions gave NUJ its due respect as SWAN’s mother union which it is affiliated to, no progress can be made.
“The National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) is answerable to NUJ. So, why should SWAN be different?
“We have the political news reporters association, business news correspondents and a few others, but they are all answerable to NUJ. Only a fool will say it has nothing to do with its mother,” he said. (NAN)