*They are demanding for money from us
While the invitation of Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai as guest of the Press Week of FCT Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) is still brewing heat, it appears that another heat is also brewing on the Council, this time from the Senate Press Corps.
The chairman of the corp, Mr. Cosmas Ekpunobi, has taken a swipe at the union over the disclaimer issued by the council and the national headquarters against the conferment of Awards by the Corps on some individuals.
Ekpunobi, in a statement issued and signed by the Awards Committee Chairman of the Senate Press Corps, Mr. Ezrel Tabiowo, lambasted the present leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists for bringing disgrace and disrepute by its conduct on the profession of journalism.
He also accused the state council of the NUJ, led by Paul Ella Abechi, of unnecessarily harassing and frustrating the progressive efforts of journalists within the federal capital territory with monetary demands.
He warned that the activities of Ella Abechi which have resulted in a series of crisis at beat level, if not checked, would lead to an implosion that may result in the eventual fall of the NUJ.
Tabiowo, therefore, called on the leadership at the national level to carry out thorough investigations before reaching a conclusion on any matter as it did concerning the Senate Press Corps Awards.
He added that all recipients of the Senate Press Corps Award were thoroughly subjected to a strict selection process, based on evidence of performance and contribution to matters of legislation.
“It is a thing of disgrace that the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists at the National and council level would give in to pettiness by attempting to take sides with certain political forces.
“The word going round but not confirmed yet, is that they were given a lump sum of money to ensure one of the recipients, Senator Dino Melaye, was stopped from being awarded Senator of the Year. How true that is, time will tell.
“Let it be stated clearly, that the decision to disclaim the event, which by the way turned out a huge success, would not be the first time the union has tried severally to undermine professionalism.
“Rather than play big brother role, the present leadership has so many times attempted to enforce its will on beat associations through different forms of harassment. Let it be stated clearly, that the time has come when this will be resisted.
“Also, we also wish to use this opportunity to advise the leadership at the National level, to look into matters thoroughly before carrying out hasty decisions, as this has weighty consequences on the profession of journalism on the long run. We cannot afford to put our destinies in the hands of charlatans whose only major concern is the size of their pockets and ego.”
It would be recalled that the FCT Council of the NUJ had on Monday 9th October, issued a press statement calling off the award slated for same day at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, describing it as illegal and lacking legitimacy by the constitution of the union.
And as if ratifying the position of the council chairman, the National President of the union, Comrade Abdulwaheed Odusile had in a statement dated same day and signed by the National administrative Secretary, Gbemiga Bamidele, also called off the award categorically stating that, “the union has not approved any award for Senator Dino Melaye and 14 others as being paddled by some unauthorised members of the union.”
The president described the Senate Press Corps as illegal and not recognised by the NUJ, therefore making the award itself illegal and that the union dissociates itself from the award.
But despite this, the award still held with several dignitaries attending and receiving awards in clear disregard to the disclaimers.
Reacting to the fracas, members have called on the NUJ to work to salvage the already battered image of the union instead of soiling it further.
It would be recalled that the Senate Press Corps has been having an ongoing fracas with online journalists covering the Senate, a crisis which the council has not been able to address and which already threatens division and the creation of a parallel body.
Several other chapels within the FCT including the Federal Information Chapel and the FCDA Chapel have been having internal wrangling with fingers being pointed at the current leadership of the council.