MAURICE OKAFOR writes that the ugly incidence at the NUJ Press Center, Enugu, on Saturday, May 18, which unfortunately led to the evacuation of COVID -19 palliatives brought by the Enugu State Government for journalists in the state, exposed the lingering crack in the State Council of the union and also exposed the ugly affairs im union’s relationship with the state government.
The palliative committee headed by the deputy Governor, Hon (Mrs.) Cecelia Ezeilo, wo was represented by the Leader of Enugu State House of Assembly, Hon Emeka Ezeugwu, and the Commissioner for Information, Hon Chidi Aroh, Hon. Geoffrey Mbah, representing Oji River Constituency, among others, gave adequate publicity to the envisaged sharing of the government’s palliatives to journalists in the state at the Nigeria Union of Journalist[NUJ] Enugu state Council arena, located at No 4 Rangers, avenue, Independence layout Enugu, the previous day.
Dialogue on how to share the palliatives among the Journalists between the Enugu state NUJ EXCO led by Comrade Rex Arum and the palliative committee went into deadlock over arguments to recognize the existence of a faction of NUJ within the Council, whereas RATTAWU peacefully took the packs allotted to them.
The State commissioner for information, Hon Chidi Aroh, earlier stressed that the committee did not come to delve into the State NUJ internal wrangling but have a duty to ensure that all Journalists in the state benefit from the palliatives as the state government’s own contribution to cushion the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their welfare.
The suggestion of Comrade Rex Arum led NUJ Enugu state EXCO to take over the distribution of the palliatives among the Chapels was rejected by some group of journalists who have their loyalty to Comrade Petrus Obi, the elected National Vice Chairman, in charge of Zone Comprising Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Anambra and Imo state councils of the union, but who currently is suspended by the National executive of the Union led by Comrade Chris Isiguzo, over alleged anti-union affairs.
However, Comrade Obi is challenging his suspension at Industrial Court, Abuja, also with claims that Comrade Chris Isiguzo is not qualified to be elected President of Nigeria Union of Journalists.
With the unresolved impasse on how to share the portion of Government palliatives, the state commissioner for information, Hon Chidi Aroh, said the palliative committee took a decision to withhold the NUJ portion of the palliatives, as a measure to control the chaotic situation.
Mixed feelings and reactions had since trailed the ugly incident from within and outside the state, especially from men of the pen profession. Many expressed the view that if the palliative committee had succeeded in sharing the palliatives within the NUJ press center without the guide of the state NUJ EXCO, it will tantamount to the claim that the state government does not recognize the constituted and elected Enugu state NUJ EXCO led by Comrade Rex Arum.
But, the fears of Comrade Petrus Obi was that members of his acclaimed faction would not be accommodated by the Comrade Rex Arum led state council if handed over to them. Comrade Obi had since opened an acclaimed faction of NUJ at both state council level and the Correspondents’ chapel level even as the suit against National leadership of the union is pending at Industrial court Abuja.
The AUTHORITY checks revealed that the whole cold war of the existence of two fractions and any other, internal bickering within Nigerian Union of Journalists in Enugu state can be described as a fallout of the lingering Union’s political difference between NUJ President Comrade Chris Isiguzo, Comrade Petrus Obi, the elected Zonal Vice President, Zone C, but currently on suspension and Comrade Mrs Chibota Edozie, who was once elected Zonal Chairlady of National Association of Women Journalists [ NAWOJ], but also currently on suspension.