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2016: Thrusting Into Sustainable Development For Journalists By Patrick Albert

Today, Thursday, March 31, 2016, we begin our first Congress in the New Year, envisioned as our year of “Greater Possibilities.”  As you may recall, last year, 2015 was christened “From Glory to Glory”. And we can rightly acknowledge the many initiatives we undertook to attract goodwill and support to consolidate our transformation, both in terms of infrastructural development and the welfare of our members.

Let me therefore, with an excited heart and love for the Union, welcome you all on behalf of the State Working Committee (SWC) and State Executive Council (SEC) of our great Union, to this New Year. We are exceedingly thankful to the Almighty God for His love, guidance and generous provisions for the year ended. We equally thank all our members for the loyalty, support and cooperation.

Reviewing the year ended, 2015, we believe that the landmark achievements were in tandem with the philosophical disposition and developmental pursuit of the Rebirth Group to bring about a new lease of life to the Union as it vigorously campaigned for my election on August 1, 2013.

Let me again re-echo as clearly encapsulated in my State of the Union Address during my One Year Anniversary Congress on Thursday, August 14, 2014, that the drive of my leadership is to galvanise and bring to fruition the dreams of our past leaders and to make NUJ more responsive to the needs of members as well as actualise the profession’s relevance in line with constitutional responsibilities to the society and the government.

Within the year ended, as evidences abound, we achieved our Perimeter Fencing/Gate House, after clearing the vast land to determine ownership and built Mini Club House with well laid sit-outs and greenery. We introduced lightings on the perimeter fencing as well as security lightings within our premises which have come to give an alluring attraction to the NUJ Centre especially at Night.

We also commenced the building of the Two-Storey Office Complex on July 2, 2016 which is now at the roofing stage. The concept of the complex is quite unique as it will serve as our new administrative block as well as offer many rooms for office rentals to interested persons and organisations. Also, it will accommodate a-300 capacity ICT Centre, Conference Hall, Library and Committee Rooms amongst others.

You may recall that in 2013-2014, we were able to carry out upgrade on facilities at the existing one-storey building, provision of offices for the State Secretary, Treasurer and other Officers, equipping of Mini Conference Hall, establishment of an ICT Centre and Viewing Centre, Acquisition and distribution of five (5) new Toyota Hiace Buses, Acquisition and distribution of 1000 GOtv decoders and 175 Laptops to Members, Acquisition of two (2) Giant Generators – a 60 KVA and a 150 KVA respectively, and other numerous welfare programmes and packages. Recently, we acquired new model laptops for distribution to officers in the State Working Committee (SWC).

Obviously, our Union is today gaining greater respect and relevance in the society and the polity. To God be the glory. We salute all our members for this collective accomplishment.

However, to stay current with success requires tenacity and wisdom in the pursuit of our goals and aspirations. Let me emphasise that we cannot celebrate ourselves as professional journalists if our output, in this case reportage, fails the basic test of our Code of Ethics which entails objectivity, fairness and balance.

As a responsible professional body our National President, Abdulwaheed Odusile has enjoined State’s Councils to be firm on issues of ethics and professional standards. Accordingly, we will continue to urge members to remain on the ethical path so as to earn respect and win public confidence and trust. As I have said earlier, unfounded and concocted reportage and unprofessional headlines, inflict on the victims, injuries which are near impossible to erase and heal than most severe orthopaedic cases.

While we will always rise in defence and protection of our members in the exercise of their legitimate duties, we will not hinder the course of justice in a well established case of malicious reportage. We should be proud professionals, without subjecting our consciences to the dictates of politicians in their game of outwitting one another through blackmail and dissemination of outright falsehood.

In the light of this, let us be bold to say that we are entering a year that is crucial for Sustainable Development in our Union. 2016 is a year that our consciences will be put to test whether we appreciate good things; whether we should sustain the massive ongoing development initiated by my leadership as promoted by Rebirthers in the Union.

Quite interesting to note is that today, Rebirth Group involves all progressive minded members of the Union. And I am happy that the ideals and philosophy which we set for ourselves are being embraced by all members. This is the unity of purpose that we need from all our members to drive the ongoing development conclusively.

There are eras, and when it comes, deep thinkers utilise it. Literary legend, Williams Shakespeare rightly visualised that “There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.” It suffices that our collective dreams as being faithfully implemented be not truncated.

I share the thoughts of Winston Churchill (November 30, 1874–January 24, 1965), journalist and erstwhile Prime Minister of Britain that, “The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.” We will not stop dreaming of a future that will situate us positively. We are encouraged that even when the dream of our model of Press Centre is in the embryo stage, observers within and outside have given us kudos.

What is more, during our December 28, 2015 Congress, Members unanimously passed a vote of confidence on me nay the SWC and yesterday, Wednesday, March 30, 2016, the State Executive Council (SEC) equally passed a vote of confidence on my leadership for the various achievements recorded. We can assure you that the SWC under my leadership will remain committed to the implementation of all our projects.

I wish to reiterate that as one sent to you by the Most High God; I will continue to yield totally to God’s directive. Without equivocation, my  ascension was a divine commission; a mission clearly defined by the Almighty God to be His instrument to do the unbelievable for journalists, nay the Media Community in the State. That it is God who leads, accounts for the successes we have continued to garner since the inception of my leadership.

Gentlemen, you are aware of our agitation for the implementation of the 22.5 percent Weigh-in (Hazard) allowance for Media Workers. We believe that His Excellency, Deacon Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, being a promise keeper will surely fulfil his promise to implement it. The Governor has already showed his character of love towards us by undertaking the ongoing construction of Information Drive, our access road, which we have yearned for years without success.

We are hopeful that he will accede to our request to appoint qualified journalists in Government employ namely; Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corporation (AKNC), Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation (AKBC) and Information Directorate of the Ministry of Information and Communications as Permanent Secretaries.

It is important to say that we are on the verge of State Council elections in the State. We appeal to all members interested not to overheat the cordiality in the Union but to play by the rules and avoid politics of rancour and bitterness.

Engaging in character assassination is not what members need at this time. Besides, character assassination will instead portray our members and our Union in bad light. We appeal to our members to subject blackmailers to issues and their vision for their Union. I am grateful to God for the collective resoluteness we have taken to sustain the ongoing development.

Let me add that as we enter a New Year, we are going to God to offer thanks and to commit the Union into God’s care. And in line with our disposition towards the promotion of unity, peace, development and tranquillity in the State, we are holding the 2016 New Year Thanksgiving Service in Uyo Senatorial District (USD), at the Qua Iboe Church, 112 Nwaniba Road, Uyo.

As we may recall, 2015 New Year Thanksgiving Service was held at Eket Senatorial District (ESD) at Methodist Church Nigeria, Idung Ekaiko, Etebi Circuit in Esit Eket Local Government Area. The 2014 New Year Thanksgiving Service was held at Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District at the Rapture Trust Gospel Ministries International, Ukanafun in Ukanafun Local Government Area.

Our great Union will continue to emphasise the oneness of our people irrespective of dialectal differences and political affiliation.

We once again congratulate Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel on the affirmation of his divine mandate by the Supreme Court. Fortunately, we have seen tremendous capacity in the Governor to deliver on his campaign promises and to take Akwa Ibom State to higher heights infrastructurally, economically and industrially as well as in manpower development.

Our Union will support him and stand by him to enable him succeed. We recall with nostalgia that he was part of the former governor’s team at the groundbreaking ceremony of our on-going construction of International Press Centre. We know that he will ensure the fruition of this enviable venture which will go a long way to complement the Ibom International Stadium by playing host to visiting journalists from other parts of the country and abroad.

We also commend the Hon. Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr. Aniekan Umanah for his invigorating leadership, support and rapport with NUJ. We also appreciate the Senior Special Assistant /Chief Press secretary to the Governor, Mr. Ekerete Udoh, The Special Assistant on Local Media, Mr. Uko Umoh and all Media Assistants to the Governor as well as Media Executives for the cooperation and support always extended to us.

Finally, let us reiterate that our successes have been made possible by the active collaboration, understanding and support of the leadership and members of Chapels.  We therefore urge all our members to remain steadfast and committed to the Union and her programmes.

We thank you all and may God bless us all.

-Being a New Year address delivered by Elder Patrick Albert, chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Akwa Ibom State Council at the State Congress of the Union held on Thursday, March 31, 2016.

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