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27.01.2009 Africa

NUJ Rivers State Election & Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke

By Odimegwu Onwumere
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While the national delegates conference of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) is slated for 27th and 28th of March in Abuja this year which would give birth to a new executive at the national level, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke has admonished the union members in Rivers State to turn a new leaf and embrace God in truth and in spirit. He said that that was a condition to reaping copious blessing from God.

We can remember that in August 2007, the General Overseer of the Salvation Ministry Int'l Church, Pastor David Ibiyeomie re-dedicated the NUJ Rivers State Chapter to God, and prayed to God for the members to reap the fruit of their labour. Pastor David specifically prayed that God stops the untimely death that was plaguing the chapter. His sermon was made at the Ernest Ikoli press centre Port Harcourt, the NUJ Rivers chapter secretariat. While the members were deeply fasting and praying for God's intervention, Pastor David, quoting the Bible book of Isaiah 59:1 noted that “God's hands are not short in blessing us neither is His ears heavy to hear but that our sin has demarcated us from our blessings.” Pastor David miraculously healed Mr. Augustus Cookey of the arthritis that was his source of agony. The acting Chairman of the Union then Ms. Uche Atuzie, whom not a few analysts believed that the event was actually to kick-start the electioneering campaign of hers, as the state's NUJ Acting Chairman, as was alleged was nursing the ambition to come back as the substantive Chairman of the Union, informed the gathering that the poor living standard of NUJ members was the utmost concern, not only the never-ending deaths in the Union. “It is appalling that we work like elephants even under hazardous situations but would eat like ants,” she noted.

Reportedly, we can remember that “Officials of the NUJ took turn to lead on intercessory prayer points for the union. Bro Vincent prayed against untimely deaths, Bro Henry Chukwurah prayed that members should seek God's face always, Mrs. Beatrice Pago NAWOJ Chairman prayed for forgiveness of their sins, Pst. (Dr) Ralph John prayed for God's grace and mercy on members, Sister Julie Jumbo prayed for true repentance which eventually attracts God's grace, Sister Aisha Ikputu prayed for the peace of God to remain with the journalists while Bro Kio Nimengoka of the Telegraph Newspaper rounded it off with prayers for Journalists to work towards unity of purpose against the spirit of undermining each other's interest and for God to develop the potentials in them to continue contributing meaningfully to the society.” Ms. Medline Tedor G.M Radio Rivers represented the public practitioners, Mr. Kio Nimengoka Editor, Port Harcourt Telegraph representing the private practitioners and Mr. Henry Chukwurah, Bureau Chief, the Sun Newspapers representing the federated correspondent chapel.

Today, the prayers of the above mentioned personalities seem to not have been in vein. Mr. Opaka Dokubo of the Tide newspapers emerged the new chairman of the NUJ in Rivers State on the chapel's election which held on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2009. Mr. Dokubo, until his winning the exalted seat in the leadership of the social penpushers forum in the state, was a senior staff in the Editorial Department of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation. He polled 218 votes against that of the former chairperson, the dreaming Uche Atuzie. Madam Atuzie got 110 votes, while Mr. Sam Ovu-Eleonu polled seven votes. And one wouldn't think the election would have been free and fair, or welcomed as free and fair, if the Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke, did not caution members of the Rivers Chapel of the NUJ the need to be transparent in the election and admonished the union members in Rivers State to turn a new leaf and embrace God in truth and in spirit. High Chief Nwuke has charged the newly elected executive to transform the union by making it fearsome to meet the challenges ahead.

Chief Nwuke, an orator, lover of the people and unashamed lover of truth was a special guest of honour at the occasion. He spoke fastidiously virtually on all the areas that are affecting the NUJ, a body he had been one of the excos in the recent past and had suffered in the hands of the wicked and rapacious politicians under the ex-Governor Peter Odili-led administration of Rivers State, for a profession as journalism in the state not to be intimidated by anybody irrespective of position in the government. Hon. Nwuke suffered a lot of embarrassments in the hand of the State Security Service (SSS) men that nearly his life would have been whisked.

Re-orientating his colleagues at the occasion, Hon Nwuke said the need for change. “Change was inevitable considering the current challenges in society,” he said. “Today marks a remarkable day in the life of our union and journalists in the state, and journalists have spoken clearly”.

A man of peace, Hon. Nwuke described the election as, “no victor no vanquished”. And charged all hands must be on desk to move NUJ forward in the state. “I expect the new leadership would take the union to the Promised Land”.

The Vice President of NUJ, Zone F, Mr. Sunday Antai, after thanking the Rivers people for having a man like Hon. Nwuke whom he could not explain in words the mammoth of intellectual brilliancies that are embedded in him, congratulated the participants for their diplomatic conduct. Mr. Antai also described the election as free and fair, and saw what Nwuke had said by joining the new executive council for a taskful and as well a successful tenure. But he feared if Hon. Nwuke has political ambition and said that he sees him becoming a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in time not too far. A fellow also pleaded that Hon. Nwuke should not only centre his political ambition in the Rivers State alone, though he is dearly needed in Rivers State, but he would make greater change in the Federal level, starting from what the people of Rivers State has seen him doing goodly.

Like in August 2007 the Rivers NUJ was praying and fasting for divine intervention, Mr. Dokubo said that, the change members have seeked for has come. This was made in his acceptance speech, and he tasked journalists to send rancour on exile and join the leadership to move the union forward.

His words: “We must seize this opportunity to move NUJ in Rivers State forward and to the height we all dream about”.

Nwuke charged the new Rivers NUJ chairman not to relegate the confidence conferred in him. “I believe that with divine assistance, the union would be transformed for the better,” Nwuke said.

Hon. Nwuke admonished other members of the new exco which include, Mr. Baridon Sika, vice chairman; Mr Stanley Job Stanley, secretary; Mr Jim Udede-Opiki, assistant secretary; and Uche Agbam, treasurer, while the financial secretary post went to Collins Barasimeye, to see the offices they are going to occupy as not a personal one. But in all, Hon. Nwuke said that he has not seen a democrat like Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State. “We should emulate Governor Chibuike Amaechi,” he concluded.

Odimegwu Onwumere is the Founder of Poets Against Child Abuse (PACA), Oyigbo, Rivers State. 08032552855. [email protected]

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