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FCT NUJ: The Task Before Ogbeche

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It is no longer news that veteran Journalist, Mr Emmanuel Ogbeche has emerged the new Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) FCT chapter, defeating Mrs Rafatu Salami of the Voice of Nigeria with 338 votes against the latter’s 198.

It is also no longer news that his emergence as the helmsman of the Pen Profession was greeted with overwhelming joy by the generality of Journalists in the FCT, which goes a long way to buttress the fact that they are really in dire need of a FRESH START in the union as the motto of Mr Ogbeche’s campaign and cardinal objective.

What remains news and questions are, what next? How will Mr Ogbeche surmount the daunting challenges confronting the union? How will he address the issue of poor remuneration of Journalists by media organisations? How about the issue of quackery in the profession? How about the issue of harassment of Journalists amongst several others?

For the records, the Journalist is a key player in governance, which explains why he is regarded as member of the fourth estate of the realm. As such he ought to be accorded the regard and respect enjoyed by the other arms of government. Unfortunately, revise is the case in this part of the world.

Again, Journalism is known to be the most hardworking arm of government, where Journalists often do not enjoy public holidays, always on the field working day and night to ensure that society is informed, entertained and educated as some of their major functions. Like those in the medical field, security agencies, Journalists are also essential workers. Unlike the two, the men of the pen profession are most disregarded, mistreated and poorly appreciated. It is the sorry state the society such as ours has placed Journalists.

From the time of the late Dele Giwa till this very moment, journalists across the country and the FCT, in particular, have constantly received harassment, threats, body injury and in most cases, death. Only a couple of days, a Journalist with this medium on official assignment was manhandled by some market traders in the FCT, just because she forgot her identity card in the office and they didn’t believe her plea that she is a media practitioner.

One very serious cankerworm bedevilling the NUJ is that of fake journalists/quacks which has for a long time given the union a bad name, and as such most members of the public seem not to believe anyone that calls himself/herself a Journalist, which may be the reason why the explanation of the Journalist that forgot her ID card in the office fell on deaf ears of the market traders.

Now that a new chairman of the pen profession for the FCT has emerged, it is worthy of commendation his firm resolve to deal with fake journalists/quacks in the union. His words: “On the matter of fake journalists and quacks, we are committed to the fight and are ready to step on toes to stem the cancer that seems to hold centre stage in the FCT.

“Part of our meetings with different security chiefs will be on how they can commit personnel to the taskforce we will be constituting. It is instructive to note that the situation is dire in terms of what is on ground, and in this regard, we will be reaching out to some of you our partners and friends to assist us in this early stages so we can have a firm footing going forward.”

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It is the belief of Journalists who are desirous of that FRESH START, that Ogbeche will match words with actions on this.
Another issue the Ogbeche led leadership of the NUJ in the FCT ought to look into is the issue of poor salary of Journalists by media organisations.

It is common knowledge that what most media houses pay their staff is nothing to write home about. Worse still some of these organisations owe staff salary up to six months.

How on earth so these media outfits expect these staff to survive and still put in their best to the work? This issue can be a bit addressed if not totally. I know Emmanuel Ogbeche can address it. Periodic meetings/partnership and checking up on media houses can do a whole lot in this regard.

The issue of harassment of Journalists needs to be accelerated. The era of harassing media people at functions by either security personnel or other people should be looked into in order to put a stop to it.

It is expected that as the new NUJ chairman settle down to work, a task force will be constituted to look into such issues in the event of an occurrence in the future. That said, it is important that the media practitioners also comport themselves in the manner that they will be regarded with respect and treated fairly.

The journey to achieve these will not be easy but with unity of purpose, the union will be better. FCT Journalists will be accorded the respect, regard and respect for their labour.

When these are achieved, Mr Ogbeche would have succeeded in writing his name in the history books of the NUJ as one who came and changed the narrative for the better, one who came with actions rather than rhetorics to better the lots of journalists.

He will be remembered as one who promised a FRESH START and actually brought it.

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Disclaimer: This article is entirely the opinion of the writer and does not represent the views of The Whistler.

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