Super Eagles Uyo Diary, Day 2: We are journalists not thugs

The best way to spend Friday was indoors and that is exactly the way I spent it.
Last time I was in Uyo when the Eagles played against Tanzania I also spent Friday almost completely indoors and here I was at it again.

Truth be told there was nowhere to go and nothing to do because I had planned my time for Friday and all activities on my menu were indoor activities.

First I had my diary to write then I had to roll out interviews I did with the Eagles the previous day and of course I thought I could take some time out to write a few chapters of my book I’ve been working on for the last five years.

I successfully had breakfast in bed, rolled out a few stories but unfortunately did not have the brains to add anything to my book.

I was here for a football match and I wanted to stay with the football.

I can continue on the book when I get to Port Harcourt.

But Emeka Dennar and Benson Clement came visiting and we just talked about everything possible from our personal lives to our jobs as journalists.

I gave them some education on how to do their jobs better as journalists and as I spoke with them I realized one thing- the younger generation need to spend more time with some of us who have been in this for much longer because there is a lot to learn.

Just last week I met with Ejiro Omonede and Mitchel Obi in Lagos and it was exciting just sitting with them and listening to them.

As a secondary school student in the early 80s I voraciously read Mitchel Obi’s back page sports on The Guardian Newspapers.

I never missed Sunday Guardian because I knew Mitchel would give me all the league results from the previous day.

Then I would buy Observer Newspaper to get the full match report for Bendel Insurance and NNB’s games.

I would also buy Tribune Newspaper to get the match report for IICC Shooting Stars’ game.

I would still ask my vendor to give me Chronicle Newspapers to get the match report of the game Calabar Rovers played.

The Nigerian Tide, as it was called then would give me the match report for the Sharks game.

So between all these newspapers I would make a compilation of all the games played in the weekend including goal scorers and all.

As a twelve year old in secondary school, I do not think anyone had a comprehensive league round up as I did, but that’s me blowing my trumpet once again.

But I think the younger generation should stick with some of us. There is a lot they can learn, just like we learned and are still learning today.

The Port Harcourt invasion

The group of journalists from Port Harcourt would once again want to stay in the same hotel as I did and they had asked me to reserve some rooms for them.

I had tried to lock down ten extra rooms apart from the 4 we took yesterday, but the manager of the place said she could only reserve six.

I soon got a call from Ekine Moseph who worked with The Port Harcourt Microscope to say he was in the hotel.

No, he wasn’t on my list because he didn’t tell me anything about making a reservation but I hooked him up anyway.

Suddenly it seemed as if everyone wanted to stay in that hotel.

The delegation from Port Harcourt had about ten people and then there were journalists coming from Abuja and Lagos who wanted to stay in the same place.

I was just worried about my people from Port Harcourt and if they’ll still have rooms kept for them.

Eventually they turned up and it seemed the hotel had rooms for everyone who wanted to stay there.

Watching the Eagles train

Super Eagles' John Ogu poses with a fan
Six o clock was the time for accreditation and we were ready to go at 4pm
Then we postponed to 4:30pm because we thought we would eat first but eventually drove straight to the stadium were we were able to at least catch the Eagles train.

After the training session, the players took out time to meet with fans and take pictures which was good.

I for one has always felt that the players should be closer to their fans, but overzealous Nigerian police would never let that happen, but seeing players like Alex Iwobi, John Ogu, Troost Ekong, Mikel Obi, Brown Ideye and the rest mingle with the fans showed things were getting better, I mean the relationship between fans and players.

The disgrace of the Uyo based journalists

At six o clock we waited for Ademola Olajire to show up but heard he sent Ayo Ibadapo rather.

Ayo turned up a bit late but we were out of there much sooner than later.

But I had my reservations about what happened there.

As soon as Ayo came around, the journalists swarmed around him as if they wanted to suffocate him and I thought that was not on.

I had to ask them, a bit angrily though to give him some space since he was reading names out of a list and as long as you applied for accreditation you would get your tag.

They only moved away but shortly after, swarmed around him again.

I’ve always thought that journalists should be able to set examples for others to follow and not act like we do not deserve to be called the watch dogs of society.

Were we really the watch dogs of society?

We went to search for dinner ground and found a place called Flavour Kitchen and I swear the white soup (Afiyefere), chicken and wheat was made in heaven.

I grubbed mine like I was about to serve a prison sentence for life and that would be my last meal on the outside.

I must confess this joint was recommended to me by Saatah Nubari, the only good thing he has done for me in three years.

We retired to our hotel to hear that Ayo Ibidapo was almost physically assaulted by some people thought to be Uyo based journalists.

Apparently some journalists based in Uyo who did not apply for accreditation got violent, physically assaulted Ayo and snatched the accreditation tags from him.

I was told by a person who saw what happened and then by Ayo himself that he was pushed around and threatened. I heard it got ugly until Honour Sirawoo, the President of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN intervened.

It was very disgraceful coming people who claim to be watch dogs of society.

the chairman of the Uyo Council of SWAN, however told me that the blame fell on the NFF people for deciding to hold the exercise in an open space rather than in a confined area.

According to him it wasn't journalists that assaulted Ayo but thugs, a explanation that did not go down well with the NFF man.

I’m going to have a word with Honour Siraoo on that shameful incident which must not be allowed to happen again.

We are journalists, not thugs
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