Media needs due recognition for Democracy to thrive— NUJ President
Journalists in the country may have a cause to smile soon as the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, has disclosed plans to set up a trust fund for members.
Prince Chris Isiguzo, the National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Saturday urged the Federal Government to give maximum freedom to the press so as to enable democracy to thrive in Nigeria.
He stated this while speaking during his working visit to Oyo state council in Ibadan.Abia
Isiguzo noted that the union has set up a fund-raising committee for media organisations, following the difficulties that the industry is experiencing as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Comrade Chris Isiguzo, has described the attempt by some members of the Union desirous of stopping its scheduled Seventh Triennial Delegates’ Conference in Umuahia, Abia State as a joke taken too far.
Isiguzo made this known when he spoke with newsmen at the FCT Council Secretariat of the union on Tuesday.
He stressed that his leadership of the union had met with the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration several times in the last three years and have always informed the government on the need for press freedom as a tool for effective democracy.
He said the leadership of the union in the last three years had on several occasions told president Muhammadu Buhari the truth on how to make democracy thrive in Nigeria.
Isiguzo said; “Recently, we met with the president of federal republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, and spoke the truth to power. We informed him that for democracy to thrive in Nigeria, the media must be given due recognition.
“In the last three years, our Union has been doing very fine, even though we have not been to Eldorado because nobody has ever visited Eldorado. We can only make effort.
“We are not only consolidating on our achievements but we are taking our Union to a greater height. The union will continue to tell the truth.
“Due to coronavirus, many of our members lost their jobs. This is because many organisations had to downsize.
“A particular media organisation in Nigeria today has no staff. All their staff has been converted to freelance and there is a need for us to support our people, especially when they are facing challenges.”
He said it was ridiculous and absurd for some few noisy people to think that they can get through the back door what they could not get through a normal democratic process at the National Executive Council of the NUJ that was properly constituted with some of the vocal persons in attendance and participated in the decisions reached.
The NUJ President said in spite of the lack of service and non-juristic persons lined up as respondents in Court, the NUJ, being a law abiding organisation, obeyed the 14 days Order of injunction granted by the Court.
The National Industrial Court of Nigeria sitting in Lagos had on August 27, 2021, while ruling on a motion exparte filed by Soji Amosu and Ayokunle Ewuoso, the Chairman and Secretary respectively of Ogun State Council of the NUJ, restrained the credentials committee of the NUJ and others from going ahead with the election scheduled to hold in Umuahia, the Abia State capital.
Isiguzo said: “As law abiding citizens, the NUJ and others that were not properly addressed, respected the rule of law and shut down all activities concerning the election in compliance with the order of the court.
“Some of our colleagues, who felt that they needed to exercise their freedom of expression, went to court in Lagos seeking that the election be stopped until the issues surrounding the election are addressed and the judge clearly gave 14 days that the purported order should last and of course as law abiding people we have respect for rule of law.
“The hallmark of democratic governance is respect for rule of law and we said let’s shut down and respect the order of the court.
“Ordinarily, as NUJ President, I was not restrained in that purported order.
“The National Secretary was not restrained.
“It was just that they picked some members of the Electoral Committee, whose names were not properly captured, but we didn’t want to rely on technicalities.
“We said let’s respect the rule of law and move on even when we had not been served.”
Isiguzo explained the decisions reached at the National Executive Council of the NUJ, which held in August, particularly on formation of members of the Electoral Committee and venue for the Triennial Conference, were unanimous and the NEC is the highest decision making organ of the Union outside the Triennial Conference which is once in three years.
The NUJ president expressed surprise that while no decision of the NEC was objected to during its meeting in Abuja, some few members started peddling unfounded rumours and raising objection to venue of the conference as if there was another state that did bid and was rejected.
In his words: “There was no objection or opposition whatsoever from any member to the decision of Abia Council to host the triennial delegates Conference.
“I as the presiding officer asked: ‘Do we have any other Council that is ready to host?’
“Not even one indicated interest and we decided to take it to Abia Council.
“Every member of the NEC was present, including those that want to contest election.
“All of them were there.
“They didn’t object, they didn’t oppose and at the end of all these, they think what they could not get from the normal setting, they should get it through back doors.
“It is just a joke taken too far.
“I can assure you that as we speak there is no order anywhere.
“I am contesting for election and I am ready for election and some people that want to seek for office are not ready for election, they are only looking for issues.
“I can assure you that by the first week of October 2021, by the grace of God, the 7th Triennial Delegates Conference of the Nigeria Union of Journalists will take place in Umuahia, Abia State and it will be peaceful because we have taken steps to ensure that our people would be safe and secured before, during and after the election.”
Commenting on the allegation of certificate forgery against him, Isiguzo said he was not surprised that the issue was brought up again, adding that it was one of those distractions thrown up three years ago when he was not yet in office as president, which was thoroughly investigated.
He said: “They just want something that will attract the attention of the people and they begin to fly with it again.
“They did same thing three years ago, it didn’t give them victory.”