NYG: Okowa Receives SWAN NEC, Claims States Came With More Athletes Than Registered For

While the hosts Delta State and the Federal Ministry of Sports Development were expecting about 4,500 athletes to come in for the 7th National Youth Games, number of those who actually showed up, exceeded expectation, giving rise to accommodation challenges before the opening ceremony on Saturday September 23, 2023.

Chairman Delta State Sports Commission, Chief Tonobok Okowa disclosed this when he recieved the national executive of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), led by its President, Isaiah Kemje Benjamin, on a courtesy visit today.

“States came with more than the number registered. Let’s say we prepared for N4,500 athletes, some states came along with more athletes than registered. Some expected to come with about 1,500 athletes came in with about 1,800. We can’t send them back, Delta State will not do that, we just have to make do with what we have,” he declared.

A statement signed by the media aide to the SWAN President, Okpani Jacob Onjewu Dickson, said that Okowa expressed this while reacting to a false report that athletes were stranded with no bed space, he attributed such reports to individuals who are out to paint a bad picture of the youth games and rubbish efforts of the Delta State Government

“One or two negative media decided to snap pictures, of athletes on arrival on first day before they were settled, but they decided to release the picture today.

“The participating states are not complaining. I cannot be an enemy with anybody that has to do with sports because of my passion. Go round if people are not happy, you can tell the world. The issue basically was necessitated due to the postponement and it was picture taken on the arrival day,” he said.

According to Chief Okowa, who is also the President Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), it gladdens his heart that SWAN executive paid him a visit.

“You came at a time we are very busy, but it’s also a good time to do your job,” he said.

He lamented that journalism has taken a new dimension.

“When I was growing up, it was only TV and radio. Now you have writers, some dangerous ones, all they think about is destruction.

“When a man is trying to work and serve, some people cook up stories, it is not the best. When a man is trying to step up and you see people trying to pull him down, it’s not the best for sports.

“At international level, how many of our people are at the top, but before you grow they pull him down.

“There is nothing wrong in writing, however, write facts. Some people, maybe two are trying to pull us down, they are tagging with Sahara Reporters. I think there is need for the exco to think of how to solve this problem because sometimes it gives you bad name.

*”There is no way sports can thrive without media. I have a lot of media friends, just about two or three people trying to fight Delta State and AFN.

“Before we started the NYG, we addressed the press and the MOC, you know this games was supposed to start on 7th but postponed, now schools are opened and some schools because of exams they couldn’t let us use their hostels.

“We agreed with the states that we are not going to provide bed for all, but we will provide mattresses. If we were able to host the 13,000 athletes that came for the NSF, what makes it difficult for about 5,000 athletes?” He queried.

On the SWAN National Convention billed to hold in the course of the NYG, he expressed delight to be present, assuring, “I would be there.”

Earlier in his remarks, President Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Isaiah Kemje Benjamin said that the association is proud of what the Delta State Sports Commission is doing for members of the association in the state.

He thanked the commission for the warm reception accorded the National Executive Committee (NEC) members of SWAN.

“We have told our members covering the NYG to be professional in their reportage.

“We also intend to hold national convention in the course of the NYG. We are looking forward to you attending the opening ceremony of the convention.

“We thank you for all you are doing and urge you to do more. We appreciate your support for our members of the state chapter and hope it will be sustained,” he said.

As part of activities during the visit, a certificate of recognition and plaque was presented to Chief Okowa by SWAN national executive.

A one minute silence was held in honour of the demise of father of SWAN President, who passed on earlier today.

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