By JOHNSON EBIGIDE
The election that brought in Comrade Michael Ikeogwu for a second term as the Chairman of the Delta State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has been adjudged the fiercest in the conduct of the union elections in the state. It reminds one of the grim wrestling bout between Okonkwo and Amalinze the Cat in Chinua Achebe’s ” Things Fall Apart “.
Apart from the tension created by the earlier irregularities and inability to conduct the union election, following the expirations of the first term of the Ikeogwu-leadership of the union in the state, the atmosphere surrounding the conduct of the election on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 at the Labour House in Asaba, the state capital, was so suffocating that the two main candidates contesting for the exalted chairmanship position and their supporters increasingly became tensed up as the results were about to be released by the umpires !
However, at the end of proceedings, Comrade Ikeogwu emerged the winner, beating his rival with a narrow but divine margin of 206 to 202 votes ! With the results finally announced and Comrade Ikeogwu declared the winner, the earlier palpitating tension that had risen to a crescendo suddenly dropped. Hundreds of his supporters went wide with dancing the victory dance and singing the redemption tune in a most exhilarating rendition ! And so begins the journey of Comrade Ikeogwu at further redefining and refocusing the fortune of the union in the state.
On October 8, 2020 Comrade Ikeogwu appointed Comrade Johnson Ebigide as his Director of Communications to boost media coverage of activities of the union in the state. In a brief remark on the appointment at the temporary press centre of the union in Asaba, Comrade Ikeogwu maintained that there was the urgent need to appoint a capable hand to showcase the activities of the council in a robust flow of information to and from the public, adding that Comrade Ebigide’s pedigree as an excellent writer informed his being given the appointment.
On October 12, 2020 Comrade Ikeogwu and members of his exco received in audience the 43rd and reigning Miss Nigeria, Beauty Etsanyi Tukura, and members of his entourage who were on official visit to the state government. Speaking during the occasion at the temporary press centre of the union in Asaba, the Chairman who was represented by the Vice Chairman, Comrade Salvation Ogono, decried the unnecessary discriminations against the girl-child, particularly in the area of formal education, stressing that given equal opportunities, the girl-child might do better than her male counterparts in any field of human endeavours. He said that the council would partner with office of the Miss Nigeria in her advocacy to curb discriminations against the girl-child in the country.
On October 15, 2020 two major appointments were ratified by the council. These were the appointments of Comrades Samuel Erhunwunse of the Asaba Correspondents Chapel and Emeka Chukwujindu of the Delta Broadcasting Service, Asaba, Chapel as ex-officio 1 and 2 respectively of the union council in the state. Comrade Ikeogwu said that the appointments which were endorsed during the maiden meeting of his exco were to strengthen the capacity of the council, towards the actualisation of taking the union to greater heights, just as he enjoined members of the union in the state to support his administration so as to meet up with their aspirations.
On October 19, 2020 Comrade Ikeogwu led other members of his exco and journalists in the state and beyond to attend the special Thanksgiving Service organised by Evangelist Michael Diden at the Omega Praise Church in Sapele for the peaceful conduct of the union. Evangelist Diden thereafter hosted his guests during which Comrade Ikeogwu appealed to the philanthropist to render assistance towards the completion of the union press centre in Asaba.
There have been a couple of courtesy visits of the Ikeogwu-led Administration to some individuals and institutions in the state, not only to familiarise members of the Exco with such entities but to seek a robust partnership and assistance towards taking the union to the envisaged heights. First, was the visit to the Ministry of Information during which the Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, gave the assurance that the state government would complete the building of the union press centre in Asaba in the first quarter of the 2021 fiscal year. The union got another boost with the promise of Honourable Felix Anirah, member representing Sapele Constituency in the State House of Assembly, to donate a Sienna car to the union when Comrade Ikeogwu led his exco and some journalists to pay him a courtesy visit at his country home in Sapele.
Also at the Delta State University (DELSU) in Abraka, while addressing the Vice Chancellor, Professor Andy Egwunyenga, Comrade Ikeogwu reiterated the need to partner with the institution, towards making its academic breakthroughs known to the public. This he hopes would enhance the proffering of solutions for the myriads of problems in the society. Other visited institutions included the Delta State Capital Development Agency, Ministry of Works, Delta State Contributory Health Commission and the state Orientation Bureau, all in Asaba.
Before continuing on such other visitations, Comrade Ikeogwu convened the maiden congress of the council of the union in the state at the Press Centre, along the popular Mariam Babangida Way in Asaba. During the well attended congress, the Chairman called for unity of purpose among members of the union in the state and commended Comrade Churchill Oyowe’s spirit of sportsmanship for accepting defeat during the union election in the state, adding that such humility of an individual was required of every journalist to ensure that the union remains on the path of development. Two key committees were set up during the congress. They are the Ethics and Disciplinary Committee and the Bye-law Drafting Committee. Comrade Polycarp Orosevwotu of the Ughelli Chapel was also elected through a bye-election to fill in the vacant position of the Financial Secretary in the council.
The council under the watch of Comrade Ikeogwu also took a stern decision to protect journalists from unnecessary police harassment and brutality by placing a blanket ban on the media coverage of activities of the Police Command when a journalist was brutalised and his car damaged by some police officers in the state. The issue was later resolved when the Police authority tendered apology to the brutalised journalist and the union, promising to pay all medical bills and repair the damaged car of the affected journalist.
So far, there have been very peaceful conduct of chapel elections in the state, an indication that Comrade Ikeogwu would enjoy a rancour free atmosphere in his second term as the Chairman of the NUJ in the state. It is on that note that it has become imperative to continue to appreciate the untiring peace building of the Peace Ambassador of the NUJ, Comrade Osita Biose, who has not only planted peace in the council and the various chapels of the union in the state, but has been nurturing same through timely nipping in the bud of any brewing crises in the union.
As Comrade Ikeogwu in his second term and his team mark the first 100 days in office, it is hoped that not only would the union continue to grow in the right direction, but members would continue to receive responsive, accountable and quality leadership of the union, towards the uplifting of their welfare and actualisation of the Stronger Delta vision.