Comrade (Engr) Igbini Odafe Emmanuel
Since my attention was drawn to the strong disagreement between two groups of members of our dear NUJ, Delta State Council, over the modality that should be adopted in the now botched July 2, 2020 election of new Officers into the State Council of the union, I have called and discussed extensively with some critical and respected journalists in the State, Comrade Mike Ikeogwu (immediate past Chairman of Delta State NUJ) and some officers of the past state executive.
I have also had discussions with Comrade Norbert Chiazor and Comrade Edward-Akpati Ogude (South-South Zonal Chairman of NUJ)
It is very unfortunate that our great vibrant Delta State NUJ has allowed itself to be manipulated by some of us (Politicians and Political Office holders in Delta State) to the extent of creating divisions and crises.
As a result, we politicians in Delta State government now go scot-free with the many wrongdoings we perpetrate in government. No more vibrant, united and courageous NUJ to expose us and help bring us to justice.
I have carefully listened to the arguments of both opposing groups in the current disagreement or crisis in Delta State NUJ. It is almost the same unfortunate case as that of year 2014 which I also helped to peacefully resolve.
It is often more about the clash of personal interest of some few privileged members rather than about the overriding interest of members of NUJ Delta State, and the noble profession.
The fact that a few years ago, I personally mobilised and paid for clearing and preparation of the land on which the Delta State NUJ secretariat Asaba, is now built on, is a confirmation of my over 20 years commitment to Peace, Unity and Progress of Journalism.
The Argument of the morality of two Agreements extracted from Comrade Mike Ikeogwu to (1) step down at the end of his tenure, and (2) to always give what is due to some “three Elders of Delta NUJ and seek their Advice”, and strict adherence to provisions of the Constitution of NUJ is what for me, is the crux of this current regrettable crisis in Delta State Chapter of NUJ.
First, let me state that NUJ is a Labour Union created by the Constitution of Nigeria, as amended, and all its provisions shall be consistent with the relevant sections of the Nigerian Constitution. Any provision or action carried out by any group of members of the NUJ that is inconsistent with the spirit and letters of the Nigerian Constitution shall to the extent of such inconsistency, be void and of no effect at all.
I have painstakingly perused the NUJ constitution, I did not find any mention of the term, “Elders”.
Also, I did not see anywhere in the NUJ constitution where it is stated that there shall be an Agreement between some members of the Union on succession plan of Officers of its National or State Executive Councils.
In line with the above, therefore, those two written Agreements extracted from the immediate past NUJ Chairman (Mike Ikeogwu) are unconstitutional, null and void, and of no effect at all on members of NUJ Delta State Chapter.
Now, to the modality or process to be adopted for the election of Officers of Delta State Council of NUJ.
Comrade Mike Ikeogwu and some other members of NUJ insist that only people with valid NUJ ID Cards are to be allowed as Delegates to the Conference to elect new Officers for the Council.
Mike Ikeogwu and others insist that since this was the process or modality recently adopted by NUJ National Executive Council for the elections of Officers of State Councils for Nasarawa, Akwa-Ibom and other states, that same modality must apply to NUJ Delta State Council.
Mike Ikeogwu was quick to point to the fact that the Chairman of South-South Zone of NUJ, Comrade Ogude of DBS, Asaba, supervised the recent conduct of the election of Officers of Akwa-Ibom State Council of NUJ allowing only people with valid NUJ ID Cards to participate, and therefore, it is wrong and amount to a double standard for him to turn around to now insist on doing the opposite in Delta State NUJ Election.
My position on this is:
Whatever method adopted in Akwa-Ibom and other states is not any different from the case of the two Agreements extracted from Mike Ikeogwu.
The modality adopted for Akwa-Ibom, Nasarawa is necessary but not sufficient condition strictly spelt out in the NUJ Constitution for determining members who should participate in Conference and Election of Officers of NUJ.
That modality was only part fulfillment of the process of determining members eligible to be delegates for NUJ elections or Conferences.
Any member who is duly identified and issued an I.D Card by NUJ as a Journalist but is NOT in Good Financial Standing with NUJ, cannot and must have a Right to participate in NUJ Conference or Elections
What is constitutionally required for anyone to be eligible to participate in NUJ Conferences or Election is that such a person must first be a registered and verified practising Nigerian Journalist, in addition, and very important, must be in GOOD FINANCIAL STANDING with the NUJ according to Article 4(2i) of NUJ Constitution.
This is the clear and unambiguous provision of Article 5 of the NUJ Constitution.
Moreover, Article 5B(10vi) says: “State Councils and Chapels shall adopt the relevant provisions of this Article and apply them as they affect State Council”.
In conclusion, I submit that unless there is a verifiable evidence that these above stated provisions of the NUJ Constitution, have been amended strictly in line with the process of amending the NUJ Constitution, the modality that is constitutionally recognised and valid to be adopted for the forthcoming election of Officers of the NUJ Delta State Executive Council, shall be as stated above in Article 5 of NUJ Constitution.
That only persons who are verified and confirmed to be practising Journalists in Delta State and duly registered with Delta State Council of NUJ and who must be in GOOD FINANCIAL STANDING with NUJ in accordance with Article 4(2) of the NUJ Constitution shall have Right to participate in the forthcoming election
Anyone without valid NUJ ID Card issued by NUJ National secretariat should not be allowed to participate in the Conference and or Election, unless he or she is able to prove beyond all doubts that he or she has been a practising journalist in Delta State and is of “good financial standing” with the Union.
This is my humble submission on resolution of the crisis.
Our Delta State NUJ shall overcome and must rise again.