Come April 16, 2020, the tenure of the present elected Executive Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nasarawa State Council will or should end.
That day, Ceteris paribus or everything being equal, and barring any last minutes contrary development as a result of the measures being taken nationwide because of the widespread of Coronavirus, a new set of leadership should emerge to pilot the affairs of the union for the next three years.
For the past few weeks, there have been campaign activities by the various candidates selling or advertising their candidatures to the electorate – the practising journalists in Nasarawa State.
Preparatory to the election, on January 30, 2020, at the end of NUJ Nasarawa State Council congress, which held at the press centre, Makurdi road, Lafia, the Congress agreed and constituted a nine-man Credentials Committee, membership of which were drawn from the eight Chapels of the Council – one from each of the NUJ chapels in the State.
Following the discretional mandate granted to the Nasarawa State Council by the NUJ National Secretariat; to put in place an odd number members of the Credentials Committee, the Congress in accordance with Article 5B subsection 9 (d) of the NUJ 2011 Constitution, adopted the various nominations of their chapels’ nominees one after the other and the Committee was constituted as follows:
- Ibrahim Dauda – Nasarawa State Ministry of Information Chapel (the CC’s Chairman);
- Samson Osuo – Correspondents Chapel
- Linus Oota – Progressive Chapel
- Ben Mitu – NTA Lafia Chapel
- Muhammad Musa – Federated Chapel
- Valentine Joshua- NBS Lafia Chapel
- Member Madaki – Precious FM Chapel
- Alaku Mallam – Federal Ministry of Information/National Orientation Agency Chapel
- Simon Inalegwu- NUJ Nasarawa State Council
The Congress further resolved that:
(i) The election should be free, fair and acceptable.
(ii) That leadership of all chapels of NUJ in Nasarawa State should submit the lists of their members who were yet to do NUJ membership online registration.
(iii) That the affected members should use their January salary to pay for the capturing of their biometrics and production of their professional Identity Cards.
Without waste of time, the Credentials Committee hit the ground running by placing notification of sales of nomination forms into the various offices, commencing Friday, 7th February, 2020 and to close on Monday 24th February, 2020.
- Chairman – N40000
. Vice Chair – N30000
- Secretary – N35000
- Assist Sec – N20000
- Treasurer – N30000.
- Financial Sec – N20000
- Auditor – N20000
Special consideration was accorded the women aspirants, hence there was five Thousand Naira (N5000) discount for all women vying for positions into NUJ State council.
All chapels were then called to send in the lists of their eligible voters on or before Thursday 27/2/2020.
From all indications, the various aspirants responded to the notification by the Credentials Committee. It should be reported that initially, there was an observation that the nomination fees were rather on the high side. However, reason prevailed.
In accordance to the constitution of the NUJ with regard to screening of aspirants, the Credentials Committee invited all the aspirants to appear before them with relevant papers. All the aspirants were screened and the following is the list of Candidates that successfully passed their screening to contest various positions in Nasarawa State Council of NUJ come 16the of April, 2020.
- Abubakar Lawal Suleiman for Chairman – cleared
- Salihu Mohammed Alkali for Chairman – cleared
- Juliana Ose Ofoku for Vice Chairman – cleared
- A. A Mammara Onyapa for Secretary – cleared.
- Sunday John for Secretary – cleared
- Abubakar Sadiq Ayigu for Assist. Secretary – cleared. . 7. Moses John Jatau for treasurer – cleared.
- Abari Solomon Dogara for Financial Secretary – cleared.
- Talatu Maris for Auditor – cleared.
In all, there are seven positions to be contested for to form the new State EXCO are: Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer, Financial Secretary and Auditor.
However, only two positions have more than one candidate vying for them while five are unopposed.
With screening and clearance done, the coast became clear for the candidates to launch their campaigns, particularly the candidates for the positions of Chairman and Secretary, which incidentally are the only ones being contested for.
As it is, the following are virtually waiting for inauguration: Juliana Ose Ofoku – Vice Chairman; Abubakar Sadiq Ayigu – Assistant Secretary; Moses John Jatau – Treasurer; Abari Solomon Dogara – Financial Secretary; Talatu Maris for Auditor – cleared
Eggonnews observed that there are two camps canvassing for votes under the leadership of the two chairmanship candidates: Messrs Suleiman Abubakar and Salihu Mohammed Alkali. Curiously however, the two candidates vying for the position of Secretary belong to the same camp.
In order to appreciate what each of the candidates for the positions of Chairman and Secretary have for the NUJ in Nasarawa State, Eggonnews reached to the four, and the following are their promises to the journalists as they prepare to cast their votes come April 16, 2020.
Under My Leadership NUJ will no longer wait for government to do everything for us
Suleiman Lawal Abubakar
Suleiman Lawal Abubakar is my name. I am a Chairmanship aspirant for NUJ Nasarawa State Council come April 16th 2020.
My mission and my desire for NUJ Nasarawa State Council are to move the NUJ forward. We have a lot to achieve.
One, I have now put 15 years into this practice. And out of these 15 years, 10 years in leadership in NUJ. I started as Auditor of the Correspondents Chapel, Acting Secretary of Correspondents Chapel, Vice Chairman of Correspondents Chapel, Acting Chairman of Correspondents Chapel and two-time Chairman of Correspondents Chapel. With these I have a lot of experience to move NUJ in Nasarawa State forward.
Let me just give you a brief about my achievements as Chairman of Correspondents Chapel. When I came on board, there was rancour, there was crisis, there was disarray between the Correspondents Chapel and the NUJ State Council which is the mother body of the NUJ. I used my wisdom. I applied all the techniques and methods to ensure that we came under the same umbrella. That is what is transpiring up to this moment.
My tenure as Chairman of the Correspondents Chapel elapsed precisely on the 6th of October last year. That is why I decided to come out, to give out my own experience to the State Council.
And at the same time, the NUJ in the State was having some form of clash with the Correspondents Chapel in terms of going for assignments. With my coming on board, I embraced everybody. I embraced every member of the NUJ as a brother, friend, a family member because NUJ is our mother body, NUJ is our family. So there is no gain in working in isolation. During my tenure as Chairman of Correspondents Chapel, I made sure I carried everyone along.
I have a lot in stock to ensure we move NUJ from where it is now to a greater height. Our past leaders have put in their best. And we must commend them for their focus, foresight in ensuring that they move this union to where it is today. When I become the Chairman of NUJ in the State, having told you that I have spent 10 years in the leadership of NUJ, I have the experience. I have the connection that if put in use, will assist NUJ to a better position than where it is today.
And at the same time, some people have asked the same question, that when I become the NUJ Chairman, what am I going to do? I told them we will no longer wait for government to do everything for us. We have to look inwards. We have to look at other channels or other means to ensure NUJ stands on its own. Though we may not achieve that because NUJ is not a money-making union, we have to partner with our friends within and outside the State to come together.
Sorry, let me just draw you back a little. During my time as the Chairman of Correspondents Chapel, I organized a book launch for the past Governor. Which is the first of its kind in the entire Northern Nigeria, that Correspondents Chapel should come up with a book.
So, when I become Chairman of NUJ, I will use the same method. And from there we will generate money for the council. And we intend to have corner shops and other things that will generate money for the union. Because we will not continue that if our member is sick or our member dies, if our member is having a naming ceremony, then we will go to the government. No, let’s make our input. By the time we make our input, if the government sees us standing with our feet they can now come to assist us in other ways. But we will not continue with the old trend. We will definitely, God’s willing, change the narrative. And together we can change the narrative.
And when I started the practice in 2005, to be candid, that is where we can say kudos to the past leaders.
We can say there are some lapses. There is gap of communication with the members and that has created a very serious vacuum. It has created very serious issues because by the time you distance yourself from members, you will not know their problems and they will not know yours. But bringing them close, telling them ‘this is the constitution, this is how you operate. You cannot operate this way, you can operate this way.’ I think by doing so, you will achieve many things in NUJ.
By extension, with the experience I have had as the Chairman of Correspondents Chapel – sorry to say this, the Correspondents Chapel is the chapel where we are not many but is a very troublesome chapel. Not troublesome as in fighting, but there are very difficult people for you to lead. But by God’s grace, I managed them successfully for 10 good years. Therefore, I will use the same methodology that I have used there to apply in NUJ when I take the oath of office as the Chairman of NUJ insha Allah.
I’ll Give Transparent, Accountable Leadership
– Salisu Mohammed Alkali
My name is Salihu Mohammed Alkali, a news editor with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Precious FM Lafia.
I was once at St Williams Primary School where I graduated in 1982. After my primary school at St Williams Primary School, I now proceeded to SPS Keffi. I had deficiency then so I had to go to SPS Keffi to correct it in 1983.
After leaving SPS Keffi, I went to Ahmadu Bello University Zaria to obtain my Diploma in Journalism. They had a Mass Comm. Department in ABU as at then.
From there I was also given the opportunity to go to University of Maiduguri where I obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communication. After my degree in 2004, I was asked to go for NYSC at Kebbi State Polytechnic, Birnin Kebbi. After I finished my youth service in 2005, I was given opportunity on the 28th November, 2006 as a staff of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria on Grade Level 8 to where I am as controller of news today.
When I was given opportunity to serve in the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, I was elected as chairman of the chapel. The constitutional provision said we should spend three years. And after my tenure as chairman of the chapel, I was asked to re-contest. But I told them no, I should allow other people to also taste the leadership and see how important it is. Somebody took over from me. That was Hadiza Aliyu. After her it was one Madaki, a colleague. He is also the current chairman of the chapel.
With regard to the position I am aspiring for, I should state that you cannot just go into election without a reason. I have so many reasons.
One, it is to reposition the union. Even though my predecessor has done a lot; that is the present Commissioner of Information Comrade Dogo Shammah. He was always up and doing to make sure that he moved the level from where he met it to this present condition. But I want to consolidate on what he has done so far. Especially in the area of unity of purpose among members. It is lacking. Why do I say so? If really we are united as a group, we have a press centre that people no longer patronize. Unlike in those days that some of you our seniors when you joined journalism in Jos, after finishing your activities for the day, you would move to the press centre, relax and discuss with your colleagues. You could also get news there.
But now the reverse is the case. We have discussed that with the present Commissioner when he was at the NUJ. In fact the man had done a lot to make sure that he brought people together. But they always found it difficult.
But what I discovered was, if I am given opportunity, we are going to create activities. Activities that maybe we will now set a committee and come to our seniors who were into this job before we even left school. We will meet them and then they will give us observations and suggestions so that we can move the place forward.
In the first place, we don’t have somebody that can give us good food there and drinks. Where our colleagues can move freely and enjoy themselves before going back home. We will have to do that. It is one of the reasons that I want to run for this position.
I have told you about unity of purpose, but thirdly we have to look at the professionalism of it. Journalism has been thrown into the dustbin. There is a lot of quackery. People who are not supposed to be in the job have taken over the job. We will set up a committee and identify some of these areas where we now say if you are in the system where we cannot ask you to quit because somebody has employed you, we will now advise that you can go for further education where you can obtain our minimum qualification as stipulated by the constitution of the NUJ. At least a Diploma in Journalism where you come and you know the ethics of the profession. Because if you don’t know these ethics, there are some of us that have been opportune to be in the school and we know the ethics. You look at our attitude and you will see that it is different from those that don’t know the ethics. Their conduct during assignments, how they behave, how they talk to colleagues, how they talk to news makers, their attitude generally is not acceptable in journalism.
If given the opportunity with your support, and some of my senior colleagues, we will make sure the senior colleagues are invited. We will organize a workshop where the senior colleagues will come and give us their experiences on the job so that some of them will be in tune with journalism profession in Nasarawa State and Nigeria as a whole.
I also want to vie for this office because there is this attitude where people don’t respect themselves in this profession. You will see your senior colleague and you don’t want to give him that respect. We will be giving respect to whom it is due. We have senior colleagues, and I know I should accord them that respect wherever I see them. But it is lacking in this profession as far as journalism is concerned.
Another issue is that you will see somebody that is in the journalism profession but you find out that he is almost like a beggar. People go out and they subject themselves to small, small stipends thereby turning the profession into the dustbin. I was taught in the school that decency has to do with your character and with the kind of clothes you wear. But I look at it that some of our colleagues are lacking in that aspect. We will ask them to come and we will organize a workshop where the senior colleagues will come and give them all this background. Even if they don’t have the certificate, at least they will have what we call training on the job. We will do that to make sure our people are given the best we can give.
We need to secure that place, the NUJ. It is one of my areas of focus. We even want to do it in partnership with security agencies where our colleagues will be well protected at the press centre. Even though my predecessor who is Dogo Shammah has done a lot, however, at least much still needs to be done in that aspect so that we can improve the security situation in that place.
I have told you we are going to organize activities that have to do with games. It is a sacrifice we have to make. We will sit down with my colleagues if given the opportunity, to make sure that all the activities we are going to do are taking place there.
Transparency is another area. I am going to ensure transparency in leadership. Why am I saying so? What is meant for our people should be given to them. If for instance, there is something meant for the NUJ members in Nasarawa State, I should be able to come out in the open and tell them ‘this is what is meant for you’. And if there is anything we are supposed to do, all our activities are supposed to be at the press centre. For instance, you find out that the news makers go out for an assignment, instead of us to go back to the press centre and then discuss, so that if there is any stipends we can do it there, you see them doing in it on the road. That kind of needs to be changed.
These are some of the reasons why I feel I should come into leadership. And if God’s willing, I am given the mandate as State Chairman of the NUJ, I should be able to call on my senior colleagues to come and give them talks on some issues so that it will bring these attitudes to the barest minimum.
My choice is from God
– A A Mammara Onyapa for Secretary
My name is Comrade A A Marmara Onyapa of the NUJ Federated Chapel Nasarawa State Council. I was the Assistant Secretary of my chapel.
I am running for the position of Secretary. And why I chose to go for that is because it was the tradition and is a tradition of my chapel. My chapel will stay carefully to choose one of the members to represent it either at the chapel level or the state council level. That is the decision of the chapel. So how it came about my name, I don’t know. But I was so chosen and I have taken it as a destiny. My choice is from God.
I am more than prepared for this position because my chapel must have seen something in me before they now said so, so person should go for it. We are from different backgrounds. I schooled elsewhere and they were not there. I am not a member of their family. But we were united by the nature of union and then they must have been acquainted with one or two things about me then they decided that this person should go and represent them at the State level.
For them to have chosen me, they must have known the reason. And that means I am prepared and can work in that capacity.
For this reason when I go on campaigns, I always say it. I have been saying it and I will repeat it, that I am better fit for this because of the experience I have had. I have been in the practice for the past twenty-one years. And haven been in the practice, I must have known one of the problems of the union. This problem could be from the government or members of the profession or from the society at large.
And another thing is that I read journalism at Diploma level. And I again studied Mass Communications. And so from the theoretical knowledge I have gathered, experience of practice that I have gathered, it is enough reason for me to know one thing or the other that is a problem for this profession for the practitioners for me to tackle. That is to say, I must have identified one thing or the other that is either not being given enough attention or little attention is given to it.
One of my reasons for coming to man this position is to contribute my quota to professionalism in the realm of journalism, to see that a journalist is given the enabling environment to practice in order to reform the society. Whether you are in the public side or the private side, my work is to see that I provide enabling environment for both.
In like manner, if I am manning that position, those that are in practice and are from the side of the government, I should serve as a unifying factor. More especially as the secretary of NUJ Nasarawa State Council, the bulk of the work lies in that office of the secretary. You will now be the one that organizes, the one that keeps the formal record of decisions, minutes of the meeting, organisation of the meeting. You have to be proactive, creative and productive in terms of very viable ideas that will bring the two sides together in such a way that there will be better understanding and harmonious working relationship that will translate to better welfarism of the members.
So far, I enjoy wide acceptance by members, but there is something about social acceptance, although it is not something that is easily measured. But then from signs, from the mien, from the responses that we have gotten from those we interacted with, we are having positive responses from different chapels across board. Although out of mind is not out of sight, however, from what they are saying, in fact it is encouraging. It is very encouraging in the sense that from the side comments you should be able to gauge whether you are getting support or you are losing support.
But day by day, people are confessing that ‘we will vote you. We have tested you.’ You will see that some roles that I have played before now, people are living witnesses to it. This is not my first time of participating in union activities in Nasarawa State. At chapel level, I have contributed a lot to leadership at my chapel. And my chapel contributed a lot to leadership at the state council. And even at the state level, I have been given one assignment or the other to do. Individually, people have trusted my capacity. They have confidence so I am only going to them as democracy demands, that you have to canvass for support. You have to convince somebody to see reasons why. That is why I so much love issue-based campaign. What do you have for us? Let them gauge me. What I am saying, is it selfless or I am saying it because I want to satisfy my ego. From the statement – we are journalists – you can assess the statement of somebody if made line by line to interpret what it means. If what I have said is for my own self, they will be able to understand and they may not cast their votes for me. If what I am saying is selfless, meaning I am saying it for them, if I dish out a statement that has reflected some of the efforts I have done, I am not coming to start doing it now. I am coming to build on it.
When Elected, Full Secretariat, Social & Commercial Activities Will Resume At Press Centre
– Sunday John
I am Sunday John, a practising journalist in the State with the News Agency of Nigeria and a member of the Correspondent Chapel of the NUJ.
By the grace of God, I am contesting for the Secretary of our great union the NUJ Nasarawa State Council in the forthcoming election which is scheduled to take place on April 16.
And I am contesting this election not just because I am a practising journalist in the State. I am contesting because I believe that if given the opportunity, I have what it takes to contribute my quota to the development of and move the union to the next level.
I have been practising in Nasarawa for almost eight years now. So I know the problems, the challenges, the difficulties that journalists encounter daily.
So by the grace of God, if I am given the opportunity I will ensure that the presence of NUJ as a union is felt in every government activity. Because hardly will there be any serious event or major event in the State that I will not be aware of as a member of the Correspondents Chapel and a practising journalist in the State. So if I am elected as the Secretary, and I am aware of such events, in fact not just me, I will ensure that my Chairman is also aware and our presence will be felt. It is when the government sees you around and feels the impact of what you do in the State that such a government will be willing to partner with you, to support you to ensure better welfare for your members. But if you don’t do anything for the government, you don’t report for any medium – with due respect. I am not trying to ridicule anybody. But if you don’t report, your impact is not felt, what will be the reason for such a government to want to support you? If I am elected, the presence of NUJ will be felt in every event.
Then aside from that, if I am elected as the Secretary by the grace of God, I will be the person that will manage the secretariat of the NUJ. You will agree with me that though the previous and current leaders of the NUJ have tried. No leader, no matter the ideas you have or the resources you have, will completely address the challenges facing the association, the community or the country he is superintending over. But they have tried. They have done their best. We will want to continue from where they stopped.
Now that the facilities at the press centre have been improved by the State Government; thank God for the media-friendly Governor we have. You will agree with me that the press centre is not being patronized by both journalists and members of the public. The reason is simple. No matter how beautiful a building is, if there are no activities that will attract people to the place, of course people will not come. So as a person that will manage the secretariat by the grace of God, we will create a lot of activities that will bring people to the place. One of which is, if we come on board, with the approval of the Chairman, members of SEC and all other organs of the union, we want to first and foremost – because this idea of waiting to get support from the government is in the past. You need to initiate things that will also bring in little, little income to the association to enable you do one or two things. If we come on board, what I intend to do with the approval of the necessary organs is to set up a viewing centre. Because if you observe, apart from Mararaban-Akunza in that axis, there is no viewing centre. And the NUJ press centre is not sited in a residential area. It is sited where there are offices. So if you create a viewing centre in the place, I know the mentality of some of us who watch football to be specific. If it is good, conducive, people will come to the place. And if you have a standard viewing centre in the NUJ press centre, then the idea of having the normal restaurant we used to have, that is not being patronized, if you have a viewing centre whoever will operate a restaurant, sell beer or minerals there will have a pool of customers to patronize. People have a reason to come to the place. And of course whoever will operate such a business will boom.
Then we will try and bring a vendor as well. Since it is a press centre, there is a need for us to have a vendor at the place. And if you have activities that are bringing people, the vendor will not be lonely. He will be comfortable selling newspapers there.
In addition, we will also try and bring these people selling shayi and Indomie. Because I discover we do not have a security – I don’t know, I stand to be corrected anyway. It is like we don’t have a stable security there. So we will try and bring these people selling shayi. They will serve two purposes. One, it is to ensure that if you are there and you are hungry, you have something to eat. You don’t need to travel far. Secondly, the person will be given the gatehouse to put his things and he will also be as a security man that will take care of the properties at the press centre.
And as the secretary, I know how difficult it was for me when I came in newly to get just a copy of the NUJ constitution. I wanted to buy but it was not available. I had to be asking people as if I was begging before the then Assistant Secretary gave me his own copy to photocopy. But if I become the Secretary by the grace of God, I will ensure that any time any member needs a copy of the constitution, we will buy it with our money from the national headquarters and make it available. In fact, we will encourage people to buy the constitution because as a member you need to know your rights so as to know your limits. If you don’t know the constitution, I don’t know how you will be effective in the union. So we will ensure the provision of constitution for members to buy any day, any time.
I will also advise the Chairman on the need to initiate the idea of ensuring that members pay their practising fee and annual dues on a monthly basis. We will be writing various chapels to avoid a situation like this where you will have election and each member has to pay like Thirty Thousand Naira. Then if you have this situation, it is going to encourage vote buying. An aspirant will just bring money and begin to pay for people. But we will ensure that we encourage members to be paying that monthly so as to save us the stress we are going through during election.
There are a lot of things. And I want to call on my colleagues from across the eight chapels we have in Nasarawa, that I consider NUJ in Nasarawa as a family of eight children because we have eight chapels at the moment. And in a family, the status of the family members varies. You will discover in one family you have a professor and you have somebody who didn’t even finish secondary school. For any member of the family who really has the interest of the family at heart, and he wants peace and stability, whenever there is any benefit for the family, you don’t bring the issue of your social status. You don’t say ‘I’m a professor. Therefore, I must benefit before any other member of the family is considered’. You will put that social status aside to carry all the family members along so as to ensure peace, unity, stability and development in the family.
So we are a family of eight. Thank God for my brother in NBS. He came out, indicated interest for the Secretary. But we met, discussed, and he saw reasons with us. NBS has produced Chairmen and Secretary in the past more than all other chapels combined. He now decided to go for the Treasurer which by the grace of God he is awaiting inauguration.
So for the Federated Chapel, we believe that a lot of them will vote for us. We are calling on them because we collectively supported them in the election that is still running. The tenure of office of the current secretary will elapse on the 16th of April. So if others have sacrificed for them in the past, what is wrong for us to beg them this time around to leave for us? In the last two elections, members of the Correspondents Chapel – during the time of Dan, Peter Ahemba of the Pilot who is a member of the Correspondents Chapel, wanted to contest for Secretary. But he was persuaded to leave for NBS. He left for NBS. The second time Godwin Agwam of TVC now – he was in Tribune then – wanted to contest for Secretary. He was persuaded to leave for the Federated Chapel which he did and we collectively voted for the Federated Chapel. So is it wrong for us to beg them to leave for us this time around?
We have already bought the form. The screening was done already and they say all those who have applied have scaled through. They are qualified to contest for the election. We are waiting for the election. And currently as I have said, we have eight chapels. It is not all the chapels that are vying for election. It is only six that are vying for election into seven positions. It is only the Federal Information and Progressives chapels that have not featured candidates for election. And among those who are vying at the moment, it is only the Correspondents Chapel and Precious FM that do not have position in the positions that are unopposed. We have the Vice Chairman from information chapel. We have Assistant Secretary from information chapel. We have Treasurer from NBS Chapel. We have Financial Secretary from NTA Chapel. We have Auditor from the Federated Chapel.
The Federated Chapel has a position already. So I don’t know how they want us to work together. You have a position which is unopposed. So I am appealing to them to see reason and even ask their candidate to step down before the election. If he decides to continue, I am calling on our members in the spirit of togetherness, in the spirit of oneness, they should support me in the correspondent chapel and of course, support Salihu from Precious (FM) chapel to be our next Chairman so as to help us move the union to the next level.
Politics Without Bitterness
It is interesting to report that thus far, the campaigns by the candidates have been peaceful and without rancour or bitterness.
When asked how he has been relating with the other contestant, Suleiman Abubakar said: “I have a very good working relationship with virtually all the journalists in Nasarawa State. One, they know me for my transparency and accountability. I don’t have any skeleton in my cupboard. Because if I had any skeleton in my cupboard today, they would have protested against my candidature. But almost everybody is welcoming my candidature including my friend, my co-contestant Mr Salihu Alkali.
“What I believe in politics, politics is not all about campaign of calumny, campaign of blackmail, campaign of abuses. No, I believe in campaign of issues. Because those issues will give the electorate the enabling environment to cast their votes for the particular person they want.
“And that’s why I call my opponent a friend. We have been friends for more than twenty, thirty years. That is even before we joined the profession. I even encouraged him to practice journalism after finishing his school. That is why anywhere I go for campaign I don’t castigate anybody.
“I don’t make any campaign of calumny. Why? Because I know my stand and this election we are about to go into is not a do-or-die affair. And I promise, if peradventure he wins the election, I will embrace him.
“That is why I equally want him, when I become the Chairman, he should embrace me with his followers. With that, together we can change the narrative and move NUJ forward.”
On his part, Salihu Mohammed Alkali said he had no problem whatsoever with the contestant for the chairmanship and he has never run anyone down in the course of his campaigns.
He then added: “When you look at the Nigerian politics and the politicians, some of them don’t accept defeat. But here we have agreed even before the election that we are going to accept defeat. Whoever God has chosen to lead, we are going to support him. I know Nigerian politicians and honestly speaking, I don’t so much like their attitude. Because they do blackmail and everything they can to make sure they clinch that position. And the attitude is not supposed to be accepted in Nigerian politics. And we are going to make sure that as NUJ members in Nasarawa State, we live by example so that the politicians in Nasarawa State and Nigeria as a whole will copy from us.
“In going into politics, we have ideas, beautiful ideas that you want to execute. But once some of them are given the opportunity, you don’t see them again unless the next election is here. But for us, we are going to make sure we are always on ground. We will make sure from time to time, we go to the chapels to see how they are doing. We will also go to other media houses so that we can collaborate, so that we can tell the Nigerian politician that yes, we can do it even much better than them.
“So, we want Nigerian politicians to learn from the NUJ elections because it is not going to be a do-or-die affair.”
Mammara Onyapa, a contestant for the position of Secretary, when asked about his relationship with the other contestant, said: “Anybody who knew me before now will know that I am a friendly person. I am a universal person in the sense that I don’t have a barrier in the sense of relationship. All the contestants in the State, we are brothers. All the contestants in the State, we are partners in progress because we are going for one thing – our aim is to better the welfare of the practitioners in the State.
“Let’s say Mr. Sunday John is vying for the position I am also vying for, he is going there to work for the journalists. It is the same role I am going to go and play there. So I have better understanding with him. He is a brother. We have been meeting. We have been talking. Despite the campaign we are running which is parallel, we have been meeting one on one to discuss whether he should leave for me or I should leave for him. But I made him understand why I should go and man that position. The purpose for which he is going, it is for that same purpose I am going too.
” So it is a matter of establishing understanding, that since you are better equipped or you have better experience in this regard, go on. Because both of us are blessed with one wisdom or the other.”
Sunday John also said this abut his opponent: “My relationship with him is cordial. In fact, it will interest you to know that for the first time, myself and him – because forming groups, camps, caucus during election is allowed. We are in Salihu Alkali’s camp – he is our Chairman. We are in the same group with him. In fact, as we go round from chapel to chapel, we go together in the same team.
“So my relationship with him is cordial. I followed him even before he indicated interest to vie. He was among the first people I consulted last year that this is why I am thinking this way. In fact, last year when I told him, he promised that he was going to support me. But I should give him time to convince his Chairman to key into the vision. But later he indicated interest. I still followed him. So our relationship is cordial.”
On the whole, it can be said that there appears to be high sense of maturity in the manner of campaigns thus far. It should be observed that apart from physically moving from one chapel to the other and meeting individual journalists to sell their candidatures, the candidates have been making heavy use of the social media, particularly so the NUJ Nasarawa State Council Whatsapp platform where they post messages to persuade members on their suitability.
The Electoral/Credentials Committee: How Far?
Each of them commended the Credentials Committee and all promised to accept the verdict of the elections come April 16, 2020.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Credentials Committee saddled with the burden of conducting the election, Mallam Ibrahim Dauda told Eggonnews that they have done all that is necessary to ensure smooth, free, credible and transparent election.
Electoral Committee Satisfied
The Electoral/Credentials Committee Chairman, Mallam Ibrahim Dauda spoke to Eggonnews on the preparedness of the Council to hold the elections where he disclosed that everything was working toward the election.
When asked about the conduct of the candidates, he said: “Yes! We have monitored their activities. For instance in my Ministry when the campaign team of Salihu came, I was there and I listened to him keenly. And when the team of Suleiman came I was also there and I listened to him.
“So far they are within the constitutional provisions. And my advice to them all the time to them is to conduct issue-based campaign. It should not be campaign of calumny to destroy somebody’s image.
“NUJ is one family and we are all members of the family. Election will come and go and the members will remain. Whatever we are going to do we should think of the future of the NUJ.”
Insisting that the Committee would ensure free and fair, credible and transparent election, the Chairman said: “Right from when we had our inauguration and we had inaugural meeting with my members, I said none of them should be part of any campaign organization. They should be neutral in their dealings, because of what happened in the past where the electoral committee was divided because of their interest in one or two aspirants. We don’t want to witness that kind of experienced again.
“I have told them whoever wants to contest for election should go and seek for votes from members. If you think you will come to the electoral committee or you have two or three persons in the electoral committee to pave way for you or do one magu, magu for you to get the election it is very, very wrong. We are very much ready to accommodate all the aspirants. We are going to ensure that we provide level-playing ground for all the aspirants. That is our resolve, and we are going to stick to it.
I keep on saying this as a journalist we are the mirror of the society. The society looks at the world through us. And we check the activities of the politicians and the general public. And we report to the public. It is time for us to do the needful so that the public particularly the politicians can copy from us.
That day, we have planned to bring the security; that is the Police, the Civil Defence and the SSS to provide security at the venue of the election. And we will leave no stone unturned to ensure we have free, fair and credible election.
Everybody will be given the opportunity to show his/her popularity. And they are very convinced that with the calibre of people we are having in the electoral committee. They have the assurance that we are going to be fair to them.
No Check-Off, No Election, Says National Secretariat
The National Vice President Zone D, Chief Wilson Bako, while commenting on the preparations by the Nasarawa State Council of the NUJ to hold elections, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the candidates, saying: “Yes so far so good, I think we are on the right track. The unfortunate thing that will hold us back is the inability of the council to have paid dues to the national secretariat and other places they are supposed to pay dues for the past nine years. Honestly speaking they have not paid one kobo to the national secretariat.
I think, as far meeting their financial obligation, they are not ready for that election. The national secretariat gave a bill of just N527, 000 instead of two to three million Naira. And so far I don’t think whether there is any response. And I have addressed the state Executive Committee and they were raising eyebrow that the figure was too high. And I just asked them, assuming the national secretariat just says you should give them Ten Thousand Naira every month and the zone says you should give them Five Thousand Naira every month, and for your information, The national secretariat has 35% and the zonal secretariat has 10%. And you have not paid for the past nine years. So multiply it! And when they calculated it and saw up to two million Naira. And that is when they kept quiet and started begging.
I think that we must do something if they want to keep the union.
I think there is no any problem for now. And I think if they can keep to that spirit of comradeship by exercising maturity and then conduct themselves in brotherly manner. So far, there is no exchange of insults. The chairmanship candidates always have smiles and they are always shaking themselves. Likewise those that are contesting for the seat of the Secretary. There are only two key positions being contested for – chairman and the secretary; all the rest are unopposed.
I think we will ensure that everything goes well; it is going to be free and fair. The guidelines must be followed. All those registered members whose financial standing is not in doubt will be allowed to vote. If you are not registered and if you don’t have the national ID card, we don’t have your documents for registration and that you are not yet captured, you will not be allowed to come even near the press centre that day.
We will ensure tight security, we will not even allow election by proxy, you must be there face to face, present your national ID card before you will be allowed to vote. And I think on the day of the election, there will be no campaign that time and we are all expected to leave the hall completely. Apart from your agents members of the electoral committee and the national officers who are to monitor the elections, I don’t think that we can allow a rowdy situation. We have asked the committee to get the services of law enforcement agencies to act in case of any breach of the law. You know elections sometimes get tougher on the day of the election. You may think it will go smoothly but sometimes things get tougher on the Election Day.
But my prayer is that they meet the financial obligations. As far as they have not met that, the national secretariat in the clearance letter given to them, I think they not given outright approval, they said tentative. And we know what that means it is subject to meet the requirement. And I don’t know what they are doing about that.
But the advice I have we will grade it. The committee that are taking the list to Abuja, the electoral committee.
For now the ball is in the court of the state council to make or mar. Nobody contest election in an association that has not met the association’s financial obligation.
By this I think Nasarawa state is totally out of it. For nine years they have not been remitting anything. No matter how small it is they should be remitting something.
So the national secretariat told me clearly that no money no election and I told them. I wonder how they are going to do that.
I think as far as we have elections to be conducted. Especially the chairmanship and secretary seats I want to tell them that it is a do or die affairs. A winner must emerge. We are the eyes of the society; they want to look at how we conduct our things. And sincerely speaking, I want them to see themselves living as brothers after the election. And they are fighting for the course of bringing development to the union. Not only in the State.
The Chairman and the secretary are members of national NEC. So I think they have great responsibilities. And they should be prepared because members would want to see a change in the affairs of the union.
For now the NUJ in Nasarawa State has ‘quarantined’ itself because no activities are taking place at the Press Centre. In fact if you go the NUJ secretariat in this Nasarawa State, you will almost shed tears. A huge amount being spent by the State government trying to put the place in shape but there are no activities going on there; it is just becoming like a burial ground, which is not supposed to be so.
We want leaders that will inject life into that place, we want leaders that will tell members that we need some decorum. Because every journalist operates on his own.
The leadership should be coordinating the journalists. They should check the mode of dressing, they should properly dress. We need leaders that will address that. If you are for a function and you don’t dress well they will tell you to go and dress properly.
Let them not make a mistake of picking people that don’t know their left hand side to their right hand side.
“To the public I want to advise that they have no business being here. Honestly I will advise that they should keep off because the election is meant for journalists. We don’t want people to come for solidarity. When you win you go out and celebrate. I said if you don’t have ID of NUJ you won’t be allowed to walk into the secretariat.”
Coronavirus And NUJ Election
Although all appear set for the election, except the situation in the country improves with regard to the ravaging and fast-spreading effects of the global health challenge, the Coronavirus pandemic which is pre-occupying global conversation, the NUJ may be compelled to shift the election until further notice.
In memo signed and issued by the National Secretary of the union, Shuaibu Usman Leman (Walin Shadalafiya), dated March 20, 2020 and addressed to all State Councils, it the Stat e Council are directed thus:
With the present situation, it has therefore become imperative that the union equally takes steps to safeguard our teeming members across the 37 Councils.
In view of the above, the National Secretariat hereby directs that Congresses at State and Chapel levels be suspended till further notice. All large gatherings be also suspended, while journalists ensure they maintain social distancing and high personal hygiene within this period.
We also enjoin our members to comply with directives by the Federal Ministry of Health, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and other relevant government agencies.
In the next few days, the Credentials Committee should come out with a statement.