After a relatively long season of campaign, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Delta State Council elected Mr. Churchill Oyowe as Chairman to pilot the affairs of the council for the next three years. His emergence conveyed the endorsement of his manifesto as opposed to the idea articulated by his rival, Mr. Salvation Ogono, whom, like Oyowe, is a deputy director in the state ministry of information. Other officers are Felix Ekwu,Vice Chairman; Victor Sorokwu, State Secretary; Josephine Omordion, Assistant Secretary; Caroline Ubini, Treasurer; Polycarp Orosevwotu, Financial Secretary, and Celestine Afokobah, Auditor.
It is worthy to observe the torrents of congratulatory messages from a broad spectrum of Deltans because the election was peaceful and devoid of vitriolic speeches, personality denigration, sheer defamation and stoking of figurative fire that routinely characterise contest and politicking in the larger society.
We congratulate the NUJ Delta State Council on the successful conduct of its election and commend registered members of the union for the role they played in installing the new leadership. We also appreciate the state government for its assistance that enabled the out-gone Michael Ikeogwu-led executive, which in tandem with the NUJ national headquarters, conducted a seamless and transparent election.
However, the new executive has a lot to do to justify the confidence reposed in it by majority of members. It should galvanize support and unity among members because the polarization of the membership along two broad lines during campaigns may have weakened the sense of unity permeating the rank of Delta journalists. Rekindling camaraderie and shared hopes and values among journalists is key.
It is therefore incumbent on Oyowe to extend the olive branch to Ogono and work with him to enhance the status and welfare of journalists in the state. Granted Ogono lost the election, but he did so gallantly, not with a bowed head like a convict handed a harsh sentence by an inconsiderate judge. He tested his popularity but his colleagues decided otherwise. He may have another chance to try his luck in three years time.
Above everything else, there is a need for the Oyowe executive to reposition the state council of NUJ by improving the quality of journalism practice and weaning members off unethical conducts that cast aspersions on professional integrity of journalists. One of the best ways of achieving this is to host regular training and re-training programmes. There has not been any training for members for a long time, save for that initiated by the former executive led by Norbert Chiazor that got the buy-in of the then Uduaghan administration which sponsored some journalists to the United Kingdom for a training programme anchored by Reuters.
The Oyowe led-NUJ should quickly think out of the box to strengthen the NUJ Delta State Council financially. For too long a time, the NUJ has pitifully walked along the beggarly path, cringing and relying solely on the state government to provide money to execute whatever plans it had initiated. Oyowe should think of launching an appeal/endowment funds and use much of the envisaged proceeds to float a viable business entity such as a transport company to be managed by consultants that will remit money, either monthly, quarterly or annually to the council, to enrich the financial base of the NUJ.
We also encourage NUJ to consider along initiating a mortgage housing scheme for its members. It is doable if the leadership can engage in fruitful negotiations with known mortgage institutions to acquire swathes of land in Ugbolu or Ibusa and nearby locations to be shared among interested journalists that would pay back over an agreed period.
Our considered opinion is that this election has presented a wonderful opportunity to Oyowe and his team to work so diligently and change the narrative of NUJ Delta State Council that at the end of three years, those that voted for him will not have regrets and even those who did not vote would of their own volition campaign for a renewal of his mandate.