The Need For Peace In Imo NUJ By Chuks Osuji

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It may baffle some members of the public when I say that I am a full member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists Imo State chapter. This was facilitated by Fidel Onyeneke and concretized by the strenuous effort of the Innocent Igwe leadership. However, ever since I came back from the United States in 1979, I had always identified with the NUJ Imo State Council. Although I am not a trained Journalist, NUJ council approves the admission of anybody who is a creative writer and one who has established him/herself as a columnist. My admission was made possible because in the opinion of the leadership of NUJ in Nigeria, I have established that indeed as a columnist, I have come a long way. 

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In retrospect, apart from the fact that I started writing for Eastern Nigerian Guardian in PH ever before I passed Standard six in 1956 and ever since, I have never ceased from writing for some Nigerian newspapers as a columnist. I still remember that one of my analysis published in the Daily times was,”How permanent are Permanent Sectaries?” In the early 80’s. I remember then, one of the Permanent Secretaries in Imo State, Mr. Chidi Ebere (now late) invited me to his office and congratulated me for a great piece. In the early 80s when I came back from the United States, I was relentless in contributing to radio commentaries on weekly basis. I remember then that the first controversial radio commentaries I did was edited and aired by Mazi Nnamdi Nwaigwe. My analysis of the workshop held at Ogwuta under the speakership of Rt. Hon. Atuloma was very controversial. At that time I was already a staff of Alvan Ikoku College of Education. This analysis drew the anger of members of the Imo House of Assembly because of my fearless criticism, hence the Provost Mr. Sunday Nwosu invited me to his office and cautioned me to take it easy.

Since then, I need no proof to convince the public that in functional practice of Journalism, I have paid my dues. What is more, between 1998 and 1999, I was a guest artiste for African Service, Voice of America. My performance for nearly ten years was one of the reasons Chief Obasanjo, the then President of Nigeria conferred on me the National Honours Award of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON)

So my membership of NUJ which I have not been advertising is not in doubt. That is why I have always taken interest in the affairs of Imo State Council of NUJ. One of the roles I played in Imo Chapter was when I was appointed as the chairman of its committee by one George Izobo the then chairman of NUJ to fashion out a process of when Imo State Chapter was in disarray during the chairmanship of C. T Okenze. It is because of this my relationship with the NUJ that I have not been comfortable with the spasmodic conflict in the Imo Council leading to even the case going to Court. However, although I am not an active member of the Executive, I am very much interested for peace to return to the chapter so that Imo State chapter can play its important roles in the governance of Imo State because the Press in accordance with constitutional or political order is the fourth estate of the realm as enunciated by Thomas Carlyle in his book entitled, ”Heroes and Hero Worship.”

Thus, I am disposed at all times to contribute to the return of Peace in Imo NUJ council. In fact, every well meaning citizen with or without political incline must see to peace returning to Imo State chapter.

For many years after the tenure of Chief Ben Osuagwu, Imo State chapter has enjoyed relative peace. I remember that it was during his time that the National Association of Women Journalists emerged. Because according to Kennedy Shaw, ”Peace is a fore bearer of social cohesion in  every society .” Therefore, a stable and progressive Imo Council of NUJ without rancour has a lot to do for the state. It is Important that the new caretaker committee under Precious Nwadike should be given support and encouragement to revitalise the strength, vim and Vigor in NUJ Council. It is important for me to tell this short story. In 1981, when I was appointed a consultant to His Excellency, Chief Solomon Lar, the Governor of Plataeu State. On reaching Jos the plateau state-capital by road at 1:00am, I went to a hotel called Hill Top in the city center. Unfortunately, I needed a place to rest my head, that of my assistant and driver, I went to a spot where suya was being roasted which was very close to the hotel because I could not afford the hotel bill. I made inquiry from the suya vendor who looked moderately educated and asked him where I could get the nearest church explaining to him that I and my companions were stranded. He asked me the type of work I do? I knew he would not understand if I had said a Public opinion Analyst or even a Consultant then I told him that I am a Journalist. He quickly pointed to the NUJ press centre that they have accommodations for “strangers like you.” We went to the press Center and the two security men were so nice. After explaining my plight, one of them went inside the centre. He came out with a young man fortunately from Ngorokpala who was the officer in charge. After explaining our plight, he thought for a moment and told me that they had some vacant rooms where I could stay till any day I want and that I should pay minimum sum no matter-the number of days I would stay. As he was about to take us to the vacant room, he asked me of my ID card since I claimed I was a journalist. Quietly explained to him that I am a writer and do not have a formal NUJ Id card. He asked me to wait and after some time, he emerged with his supervisor who drilled me with questions to confirm my genuineness of being a journalist. After about 10mins, the well read young man indeed told me he would allow us stay in the reception. When his superior officer will come to decide if we should stay or not.

In the morning, the over all supervisor came, after listening to me, he authorized that two rooms should be assigned to us. It was in the morning that I learnt that the NUJ center has all the facilities to make travelers comfortable. It is necessary that the NUJ press Center in Imo State should be revitalized to its former glory and it is our expectation that Precious Nwadike led caretaker should take the lead in this regard. This is what the NUJ Center is and stands for. Do I need to say more???

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