It has become a recurring embarrassment on the part of Imo Journalists, the blatant usurpation of power, name dropping and blackmail of Journalists by one Mr Chris Akaraonye, a retiree with the state Ministry of Information who has continued to parade himself as chairman of Imo NUJ state council even while the union dissociated herself from his frivolous activities.
It is indeed pertinent to note that there exist no leadership of Imo NUJ except for the emergence of a caretaker committee ably led by Mr Steve Uzoechi of the “New Telegraph Newspaper ” who later handed over to Comr Precious Nwadike, Publisher the Nigeria WatchDog Newspaper.
Let it be on record that Imo NUJ until the court decides, has no leadership except that of the caretaker committee constituted at the union’s congress held last year and attended by very respected veterans and members of the Union.
It becomes laughable when a retiree who should join his colleagues in the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) to complete his verification and press for their payment of arrears of pensions and gratuity, continues to impersonate as chairman of Imo NUJ.
For over a year he had impersonated as the Union’s chairman, he had not issued a press release in solidarity with his colleagues (Imo pensioners) whose arrears of pension salaries and gratuity are yet to be attended to as he only fronts himself and few others each time the state government calls for verification of pensioners.
Mr Chris Akaraonye having exhausted his relevance and support from members of the Union who dissociated themselves from his activities, has resorted to self help by way of name dropping and blackmailing of courageous and very respected Media practitioners who have been at the fore front of ensuring that the government of the day are held to account.
In 2014, when Chris Akaraonye was seeking for reelection for the position of vice chairman during the Imo NUJ council election, I was a chapel chairman representing the Red Parrot newspaper, Chief Fidel Onyeneke was cleared to vote under my chapel, currently, am a member of Newspoint chapel.
My crime against Akaraonye was my resolve to support another chairmanship aspirant since I was privy to the information about his retirement. Nigeria Union of Journalists is a professional body that requires vibrant leadership and for a man who is still battling with payment of his gratuity as at the period of the election, only God knows when it will be paid, such aspirant whom if elected considering his age and predilection, would not enjoy my support and that of every other practising journalists who wants reform in the Union.
Akaraonye has been in the Union leadership for over eighteen (18) years, at this stage, we expect him to take a bow now if there is still any honour left in him.
My primary reason of opposing Mr Chris Akaraonye’s chairmanship ambition was his romance with the ex-governor, Rochas Okorocha (who he has since dumped for the incumbent) where he and his cohorts connived to sell off our Union’s property along pH road, an agreement which earned him support from the state governor during the Union’s botched election, we had already issued a Caveat through a renowned lawyer, no individual can sell the union’s property fraudulently without the knowledge of veterans and practising journalists in the state.
*One wonders how a retiree in a state can hold to account a government that determines when to pay his pensions?*
My resolve and that of other journalists in the state to support a chairmanship aspirant from either the Correspondent chapel or Imo based newspapers was to ensure we elect prudent leaders that will display vibrancy and objectivity instead of electing a stooge.
On the Press Release as regards assault on Comr Precious Nwadike, Publisher of Nigeria WatchDog and current chairman, caretaker committee of Imo NUJ, which I issued, I have no case to answer. We have always been there for our members. Recall, during the suspension of Barr Vivian Ottih of the Imo Broadcasting Station, we issued a press release urging the state government to wade in, the Akaraonye and group parading as leaders of the Union did not attempt to speak for their own, instead they paid a courtesy visit to the commissioner for Information to discuss business as usual. Vivian Ottih until her suspension was the chairperson, NAWOJ, Imo state chapter.
The caretaker committee constituted at the union’s congress held last month after the expiration of Steve Uzoechi’s three month tenure mandates that we act as representatives of the Union while the impersonators continue with their primitive antagonism of all that is good and credible in our union, while we await the outcome of the NUJ leadership suit before the Industrial Court, Owerri.
Imo NUJ’s case is pending in a competent court of jurisdiction, hence, I won’t preempt the court.
We shall continue to speak against humiliation, intimidation and assault on our members by overzealous government aides and power drunk. We shall not be selective in our crusade for good governance.
Even if it has to do with protesting for pensioners which Akaraonye is one of them, we shall stand firm and speak as we had always done in recent time.
Mr Chris Akaraonye is a member of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, Imo state chapter, he should join his colleagues and continue to press for payment of arrears of their pension instead of creating crisis in Imo NUJ.