All is not well with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta State Council as members are at daggers drawn with the state council chairman, Comrade Nobert Chiazor and the Secretary, Churchill Oyowe.
The NUJ officials have come under severe attack over a press release issued to condemn members over the report of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s recent health challenges.
In the press release jointly signed by the chairman and his secretary, the NUJ lambasted journalists over what they referred to as false and mischievous reports by them.
The union also expressed displeasure over ‘malicious and unsubstantiated reports’ against some top government functionaries and eminent personalities in the state, describing such as uninformed display of irresponsible journalism.
The release warned that the union would henceforth evoke the relevant provisions of the Union’s constitution on erring members.
As a result, journalists in the state are not happy over the attitude of the two NUJ officials.
Many journalists see the duo, who are also on the pay roll of the government (being civil servants) as trying to please their employers at the expense of journalists in the state, wondering why the unwarranted attack on journalists in the state who have been very fair to the state government all these years.
They pondered why the duo resorted to the use of such words to describe journalists, even when it was obvious that the report of Governor Okowa’s health was well reported as sources including that of government were sought.
They also expressed worry that the NUJ officials appeared to be crying more than the bereaved because the governor’s remarks over his health already put the matter to rest.
There is anger among media practitioners that the NUJ chairman is always quick to defend the state government and condemn journalists.
Late last year, some journalists, including the Vice Chairman of the state Council of the NUJ, Comrade Felix Igbekoyi, were beaten up and narrowly escaped death at Ndokwa East Local Government Area of the state while on official duty.
They were allegedly beaten up by thugs acting on the instructions of the Deputy Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly (DTHA) Friday Osanebi, because the matter under investigation by journalists wasn’t favorable to him.
Till date there was no single release by the Delta State Council of the NUJ to condemn such a dastardly act. Rather, an award was given to the same politician few weeks later by the council as if to commend him for unleashing thugs on journalists.
The crisis assumed another dimension when the issue of the release was taken to social media and there was revelation that apart from the chairman and the secretary, no other member or official of the NUJ was consulted before the press release was issued.
As the issue degenerated, the Council Vice Chairman of the Council, Comrade Igbekoyi was compelled to remind the secretary and the chairman that they have been running the affairs of the state council alone without any form of consultation. Even other officials of the council are not consulted.
The argument on the social media degenerated further and the vice chairman asked the chairman and the secretary to tell journalists in the state how they embezzled the N25 million given to the state council for its secretariat building during Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan led administration.
The revelations by Comrade Igbekoyi was quickly removed from the social media but the damage had been done and journalists have been discussing the issue of the press release on one hand and the N25 million issue on the other hand.
The present NUJ leadership has been involved in many controversies in the past and this might just be the last straw that’ll break the camel’s back.
Comrade Chiazor had on many occasions come under attack by journalists for his leadership style.
During the reign of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, Comrade Chiazor was embarrassed on one occasion after the governor briefed the press. The embarrassment meted on Chiazor on that occasion was a fallout of the complaint the governor received from journalists that day. Issues raised against Chiazor was the manner journalists were being short-changed.
The governor expressed his anger and disappointment by rejecting the gift presented to him on that occasion.
In all, journalists in Delta state are angry that never has the NUJ been brought to odium and disrepute the way it is now.