It was in the year 2013, less than three (3) months after I joined Community Pulse Newspaper as a junior reporter, the campaign for the next leadership of Akwa Ibom State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) began. The very first of ambitions I heard was that of the then incumbent State Council Chairman, Senior Comrade Joe Effiong who desired a second term in office. In all sincerity, I could see nothing wrong with that. Highly intelligent, disciplined and well coordinated- all these were attributes I could see in him, though from a dignified distance then. However, I later found out about a man who was very strange to me, but turned out a strong contender for the same office.
My first encounter with the knowledge of his existence came through a news report on AKBC’s society news, where I learnt of his endorsement by his immediate constituency in the union, the Pioneer Chapel. And aside other things said about him which to me was a mere label on a market-bound product, that he once led the Pioneer Chapel was the only proven fact I could take home.
As events unfolded, I got to hear/read more about him and his “Rebirth 2013” slogan through consistent publications by one Mr Otobong Nsekpong who then served in the same medium with me as Weekday Editor. Then with several interview sessions on electronic and print mediums involving both contenders, Patrick Albert (Elder) soon became a household name.
The real popularity test eventually came on August 1, 2013, and after an interesting contest, Elder Patrick Albert took the day and took over the Akwa Ibom NUJ leadership mantle leadership with his immediate inauguration into office, as demanded of the union’s constitution.
Albert’s victory at the 2013 #NUJ_Decides had put him forth as the popular choice of the people, and just like in every democratic setting, the authorities had no choice other than accepting and respecting such choice. The rest as at the present, remains history. But then, at the ending days of his 3-year tenure, the question now is, can Albert give good accounts of his stewardship in all the days he has kept the mandate of Akwa Ibom Journalists? Has he been able to justify that very confidence that was reposed on him on that historical 1st day of August, 2013?
On a personal note, my consistent involvements in the union’s activities in the last three years has given me deep insight on the states of the union then and now, just as the said Albert has changed from the strange fellow I knew 3 years ago to someone I now know virtually everything about. But though one mind might consider my attestation to the gradual connection and cordial relationship we have shared as not point enough to justify the votes that preferred him to his contender, what would the same mind think upon realizing that this conscious, deep-rooted and well sustained connectivity did not only stop at my reach, but was equally extended to the entirety of the union and its members whose welfare and plights always takes precedence over every other thing, with his personal interest inclusive?
No doubts, he came from a government owned media establishment and was often times caught inbetween the devil and the deep blue sea, especially when contending issues involving Journalists and the government arose, but never during any of the cases did he forget the oath of allegiance he swore to protect the union and its members from external influences and harm. Though with calculated and diplomatic approaches, Albert never evaded any call to intervene in such cases and would never rest until the heat and tension is brought to a calm. To him, being in a hurry to take up open confrontations is certainly not the best approach to tackling issues, as proper negotiations, he believes, can bring about perfect solutions without causing any damages to persons and/or relationships.
In the last 2+ years, Albert’s advocacy on the welfare of journalists has trumpeted uncompromisingly, without adjusting to any situation or change in one- and always wishing he had powers to enact certain laws. Yet, despite the seeming gloomy prospects, he has remained hopeful and prayerful that his desire of a well packaged welfare for, and development of even the least Akwa Ibom Journalist shall someday come to reality.
Can we talk about the conspicuous efforts to raise the bar in terms of strict compliance to ethics and professionalism? Truth is, Albert has shown so much concern in restoring sanity in the profession. And for this reason, more seminars seems to have held in the union and for its members in the last three (3) years. Aside the general seminars/lectures, members have been nominated and in some cases, sponsored to special ones, including training courses outside the state. This has been a near evenly distributed career boosts between the young (upcoming) journalists and the older ones (or founding fathers, just like popular Akwa Ibom journalist, “Asari” would call them). But on a more meticulous view, the current leadership of the union has impacted more on the younger breed of jounalists who he so desires to see flourishing in excellence. This is where the chairman has shown an unrepentant interest in seeing to the proper nurturing and development young minds into undisputable competence and readiness to take up leadership once their time is right.
While consciously trying to evade the new look of the union in terms of visible structures and allowing same remain a topic better left for another day, there will be no better time to mention that, like a Nigerian politician would launder money while planning his political retirement across borders, Albert has succeeded in laundering the image of Akwa Ibom NUJ to the farthest extent a 3 years time limit can permit. As one of the fastest and very genuinely developing state councils, Akwa Ibom NUJ has now found a lasting and prominent place before the national eyes of the union and even beyond.
In summary, we know of a saying that “the beautiful ones are not yet born”; but even with that, we have been able to look at an appealing few of the already birthed ones and refer to them as “beautiful”. In the same vein, Albert’s intelligence and stunning performance may be nothing compared to what is expected from what the suceeding generations will bring forth, but in the spirit of making the available desirable, where the desirable is absented by nature, why don’t we look at him and the union he has transformed, where we could find at least one reason to consider him intelligent, and his performance, superlative enough to qualify him for further usage while the limelight of nature still shines on him? Truth is, Elder Patrick Albert may have done so much with the first mandate, but he sure still has a lot more in him that we, Akwa Ibom journalists need to drain out of him before finally sending him off.
UBONG SAMPSON (08021419939) IS A PUBLIC/POLITICAL/ACADEMIC/SOCIAL AFFAIRS ANALYSTTop of Form