On January 8 2020, my boss sent me a PDF file and told me to apply for what is on it. On that file is a training program for Sports journalists on how to tackle corruption and sports underdevelopment through investigative reporting.
The program was organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), and PLAY!YA Nigeria.
To qualify for selection, we were asked to write a 500-word piece on the effect of corruption sports underdevelopment in Nigeria.
Although I feel comfortable writing about actions on the pitch, I still managed to pick up my pen to write on the topic.
After crafting the over 500-word piece, I sought the help of one the best writers in the country to help me take a look at it.
He gladly obliged and helped me with the editing. After he finished with the editing, I submitted the piece along with my CV. Meanwhile, I also decided to publish it on Soccernet. You can check here to read more.
According to HEDA, the training was slated for January 29 and 30, so I waited in anticipation. However, I did not receive any mail, and I assumed I was not selected.
I moved on with my life, but to my surprise, I got a mail on the first week of March that I have been selected and the training will hold in Abuja on March 10 and 11.
But we are asked to arrive on March 9- accommodation and flight fares will be taken care of by the organisation.
I received a mail a few days later which asked if I’ll love to book my flight personally with refunds made on arrival or prefer the organisation to book for me.
I thought about booking my flight personally, but the Nigerian with trust issues decided that the organisation should book for him.
I received my ticket details on Friday, March 6, with my flight scheduled for 10;20 am on Monday, March 9. I woke up very early on Monday because I had to put some stories on the site.
As the chief editor of Soccernet, I always try to put up at least one opinion piece on the site every week. Knowing, I’ll be busy for most parts of the week, I decided to do it on Monday morning before leaving for Abuja.
I managed to put up three stories before setting out on my journey to the airport. After navigating through the traffic, I got to the airport around 9;30am.
At the airport, I ran into many familiar faces who are also attending the training. We got to Abuja around noon and arrived at our hotel around 1 pm.
Although everything, including our feeding, was covered, it did not include the day we arrived. At around 3 pm, I was starving, so I went to the hotel’s restaurant to eat, but their food is not for someone like me after hearing the prices. (lol).
Nevertheless, I still managed to have their chicken pie and a bottle of malt due to the nature of the hunger I was feeling.
But even after having that, I was still not satisfied, so around 7 pm, I went out with a friend who was chosen too.
We were looking for a restaurant that our pockets could relate to, and we eventually got one local bukka. I had akpu and egusi, while my friend ate Eba and egusi.
We were satisfied and got back to the hotel to prepare for the first day of training. The first day of training was on Tuesday, but we had to eat the complimentary breakfast on offer.
And it was indeed complimentary given the varieties that were on display. I must admit that I ate with the frustration of eating outside the previous day. (Please, don’t judge me).
After eating, we went in for the training, and the first speaker was Mr Kayode Thomas who spoke on corruption in Nigeria and the effect on the Sports sector.
In his speech, he revealed to us the corrupt practices going on in some of the federations, and the role journalists need to play to end this act.
The second speaker was Mr Godwin Enakhena, who advised journalists to stay away from controversies.
He also urged media guys to verify facts before putting out a story. In his words, he said journalists can only do little to stop corruption in Nigeria.
He hinted sports journalists are not aware of the problems administrators face until they get into that position.
“If you don’t fix Nigeria, sports industry can’t be fixed,” Godwin Enakhena said. There’s corruption everywhere.
“There’s nothing journalists and do if Nigeria is not fixed,” he added.
The last session of the first day was taken by Ghana’s famous undercover journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas. And it turned out to be the most interesting session of the day.
He spoke about his method of investigative journalism, and if he agrees with critics that have accused him of entrapping his targets.
However, he defended his method, saying entrapment has to do with offering money more than what a person receives.
When asked if corruption in sports can be eradicated, Anas said it’s difficult, but urged journalists to do more.
“It’s a difficult question,” he said. First of all, as journalists, we have to work even harder, we have to ensure we probe further, ask the relevant questions and you can never say never.
“Corruption is endemic in most of our society, but if we decide to keep our eyes on the sporting industry, then I’m sure we’ll get more result,” Anas added.
The second day kicked off with Idris Akinbajo after the usual complimentary breakfast. Akinbajo spoke about steps involved in investigative journalism.
Following his session, Mahmoud Aminu shared with us on how to legal resources and data in investigative journalism.
The final session of the day was taken by Eze Alloysius, who spoke about how investigative reporting can promote equitable sports development.
After the session, we were divided into groups to answer questions on what we learnt from the two days of training.
It was indeed two days of great learning. I learnt new things that I will be applying in life as a sports journalist and writer. I also got to interview Anas, where he talked about how he caught Salisu Yusuf and the punishment he received.
I will like to say thank you to HEDA and PLAY!YA Nigeria for putting together this kind of training, and I hope more agencies can take a cue from them.
Kudos to the management of Ibeto hotels for their hospitality and also for serving us well during our three-day stay. The Breakfast and Lunch service was top notch as I ate and ate until I was overfull.
Overall, the experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.