The Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) has insisted on its position that Nigeria’s performance at the 2018 Commonwealth Games was not the best as claimed by Sports Minister Solomon Dalung.
The association’s National Secretariat, in a statement on Monday in Abuja by the SWAN Secretary-General, Olawale Alabi, said the insistence of the Minister of Youth and Sports that Nigeria performed better shows that he was distracted.
Dalung had claimed that Team Nigeria’s performance at the just-concluded XXI Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia was better than it did at the 2014 edition in Glasgow, Scotland.
“Nigeria finished 8th at the 2014 edition in Glasgow, while it came 9th at the 2018 edition. Also, while the country had a total of 36 medals in 2014, it had a total of 24 in 2018.
“With such glaring differences in terms of medals and position, we believe the Sports Minister should apologise to Nigerians rather than be toying with their sensibilities,’’ the SWAN National Secretariat said in the statement.
SWAN added that “since the minister stated that the athletes who represented the country are young, he should simply have told Nigerians they were being groomed for the future and not to compare them with those who represented Nigeria at previous Games.
“As much as we are worried about the circumstances that led to where we are, we are more concerned about the Sports Minister getting his facts right, especially as he couldn’t recall that the country’s contingent to Gold Coast consisted of 90 athletes and 43 officials totaling 133, excluding some others that were there with no business related to Team Nigeria.’’
SWAN also urged the minister to get his priorities right and stop heaping blames on the National Assembly over the sports authorities’ inability to put together a team that would have lived up to expectations at the 2018 Games.
The Association insists that its observations about Nigeria’s outing arose out of the genuine intention to enable the country plan well towards subsequent engagements and that the minister should have been more circumspect in his scorecard.
“As an Association, SWAN has been in the forefront of advocating for a National Sports Policy that will help address Nigeria’s perennial challenges of preparing for local, continental and international competitions.
“On several occasions, SWAN has supported the minister to galvanise the private sector to join government in producing great athletes and providing facilities via the enactment of relevant laws by the National Assembly.
“As a demonstration of our commitment to the noble cause, SWAN leadership visited the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, and exchanged ideas with him on how the National Assembly can help promote sports in Nigeria, to enable sports journalists remain in business,’’ SWAN said.
The Association called on the Sports Minister not to be quick to respond to genuine criticism but be quick to seek clarifications where necessary as “this will help stakeholders in the sports sector to learn from each other’’.