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But My Oga Gave You People Rice Last Christmas — Soludo’s Press Secretary Replies Journalists over Alleged Hate by Governor

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By Izunna Okafor, Awka

Mr. Christian Aburime, the Press Secretary to Anambra State’s Governor Chukwuma Soludo, has said his principal distributed rice palliatives to journalists in the State last Christmas as a gesture of love, support and concern for their welfare during challenging times when food inflation was high, adding that such gesture is a strong proof that the Governor does not hate journalists.

Mr. Aburime disclosed this in a statement made available to newsmen on Wednesday, in reaction to the recent statement by the State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Dr. Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, who described the Governor as a hater of journalists.

Dr. Odogwu had, in a recent interview with journalists, explained that Governor Soludo has not extended a hand of friendship to members of the 4th Estate of the Realm since he became governor, citing instances of the Governor’s unfair treatments to journalists and the media in the state, including the scrapping of the State-owned National Light Newspaper, among others.

Comparably speaking, the NUJ Chairman said in other states like Delta, Edo, Kano, Jos and others, journalists are treated with respect and due recognition and even appointed into positions of authority by the state governments, which also prioritize their welfare and even build and the NUJ secretariats; while the reverse is the case in Anambra State, where, he said, the state government treats journalists’ welfare with levity and complacency. He also said NUJ in other states enjoys subventions from state governments in some other states, while such thing does not exist in Anambra, where, he said, the Governor channels all attention to his SOLUDO TV, without knowing that the mainstream media cannot be suppressed or silenced.

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While revealing that even when the NUJ in Anambra applied for support for training of her members, Soludo’s government trashed the application; Dr. Odogwu said even the journalists in the Governor’s press crew are not spared of these unfair treatments, maintaining that the Governor hates journalists with passion and has not been of any help to journalists in Anambra since his assumption of office.

However, in reaction to this, Governor Soludo’s Press Secretary, Mr. Aburime, said Dr. Odogwu’s statement about the Governor hating the journalists was an unfortunate accusation and far from the truth, stating that the Governor gave “rice palliatives” to journalists last Christmas when things were hard was a proof of his love and concern for their welfare.

The Press Secretary, who said Governor Soludo inherited a complex situation when he assumed office two years ago, further claimed that it is even unfair to start judging the Governor’s commitment to the welfare of journalists based on his just two years in office, as, according to him, transforming a state is an arduous undertaking that demands a stepwise approach and prioritization.

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He highlighted some of the things he said the Soludo Administration has achieved in two years in office, maintaining that “these are no small feats for a young administration under the weight of competing demands.”

“Meanwhile, Dr. Odogwu highlights the positive treatment journalists receive in other states. While such initiatives are commendable, the comparison game is unnecessary. Governor Soludo’s priorities are clear: rapid development across the state. Of course, even as the focus towards long-term, state-wide development goals is more compelling, the Soludo administration would never ignore journalists in the state.

“That is why, last Christmas, his administration distributed rice palliatives to journalists as a gesture of support during challenging times when food inflation shot through the roof,” he said.

He also insisted that such gesture is demonstration of the Governor’s love, goodwill and concern for welfare of journalists in the state, wondering why the NUJ Chairman would still refer to the Governor as an enemy of journalists, even when he said he gave them rice last Christmas when things were hard.

“This action, no matter how small, clearly demonstrated the governor’s goodwill and concern for journalists’ welfare. How can a leader who extended such gesture be branded an adversary?” he wondered.

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