The National Orientation Agency (NOA) has frowned at the decision of the Delegates Conference in Kano to delist all members and dissolve all chapels of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the National Orientation Agency (NOA).
This was contained in a statement jointly signed on behalf of NUJ Members in NOA by Agrih Sukkukum Dauda (Chairman, NUJ Chapel, NOA Headquarters), Hajiya Suwaiba Adamu Salisu (Chairperson, NUJ Chapel, NOA Kano State), Abuchi Udeh (Chairman, NUJ Chapel, NOA Enugu State), Toyin Oluwa (Chairperson, NUJ Chapel, NOA Ogun State), Adegbayibi Ajibade (Chairman, NUJ Chapel, NOA Kwara State), Eleyinmi Olutoyosi Funmilayo (Chairperson, NUJ Chapel, NOA Ekiti State), Larai Saminu Nazo (Chairperson, NUJ Chapel, NOA Kebbi State), and Ibrahim Umar Attah (Chairman, NUJ Chapel, NOA Jigawa State).
They expressed displeasure over the decision of the Delegates Conference adding that they were yet to know the reasons upon which that decision was taken.
They noted that the membership of the union was not a favour extended to them, but pursuant to their qualification as journalists who exercised their fundamental right of free association as guaranteed by the Constitution of Nigeria.
They therefore stressed that the decision in Kano was totally unconstitutional.
The statement reads: ”We bring the warm greetings of the more than one hundred and fifty members of the various chapels of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) who work in the National Orientation Agency (NOA) on whose behalf we write this letter to you and members of the Central Working Committee (CWC) and delegates who attended the NUJ Special Delegates Conference in Kano between 24th to 27th January, 2023.
“We have noted with regret the decision of the Delegates Conference as contained in the communique to “delist all members and dessolve all chapels of the NUJ in NOA”, though we are yet to know the reasons upon which that decision was taken. Over the years, our membership of the union was not a favour extended to us, but pursuant to our qualification as journalists who exercise our fundamental right of free association as guaranteed by the Constitution of Nigeria. Therefore, that decision in Kano is totally unconstitutional.
“You may wish to recall that this is not the first time that our membership of the union has been abrogated. However, the surprising thing is that you, Mr. Chris Isiguzo, as Vice President of NUJ Zone C, was at the National Delegates Conference in Benin, Edo State, in 2006 when that illegality was upturned and NOA was reinstated as part of the fold based on the strong and unassailable submissions by almost all the delegates at that conference. Now, as President, we wonder what has neccesitated the decision you took in Kano without any formal reason or fair hearing, whatever your grievances against NOA journalists may be, despite submissions by other members of the conference. We understand that you, as Chair of the conference, shut out robust discussion on the NOA matter and handed down the gavel in such a draconian style.
“We have searched through the Constitution of the NUJ to see what offence the NUJ NOA Chapels and members have committed to warrant the decision. It is clear to us that none of us has been reported for professional misconduct. All of us possess the required educational qualifications and were duly registered by the National Secretariat of the NUJ, as stipulated in Article 3 (1-2) of the NUJ Constitution, upon the payment of required fees under Article 4 of the same Constitution.
“All the NUJ chapels in NOA meet the requirements of Article 5(G) of the NUJ Constitution for their existence. The last chapel at the NOA, being that of the Headquarters, was only inaugurated three weeks ago by the NUJ FCT Council and after members were duly registered and issued identification by the NUJ National Secretariat. Moreover, many of us in NOA NUJ chapels still pay our check-off dues, even up till January 2023. So, we do not see, within the NUJ rule book, what will earn us such discriminatory, mischievous and unacceptable loss of membership.”
They pointed out that NOA is one of the Agencies under the Federal Ministry of Information with a clear mandate to communicate government policies, programmes and activities in a professional manner, and within that framework, publish and produce all manner of publications, just like the Federal Ministry of Information.
They added that as an Agency, NOA has attracted a large number of Mass Communication graduates in its employment. It is noteworthy that the NOA also has on its board, a representative of the NUJ, the last being Chief George Izobo, former President of the NUJ, in keeping with the provisions of the NOA Act which recognizes the journalistic roles of the Agency.
“In view of the above, and rising from its emergency meeting, the NUJ NOA Chapels hereby make the following declarations:That we, NUJ members working in NOA, hereby OUTRIGHTLY REJECT the decision of the Kano Special Delegates Conference with regard to the delisting of NOA members and dissolution of the all NOA chapels.
“That we condemn in totality the attitude of the National President, who in pursuit of personal agenda, unilaterally and without notice and reason, issued an order to State Councils to delist and desolve NOA NUJ chapels.
“That we demand that the NUJ leadership immediately rescinds its decision and withdraws the order it issued to State Councils for the closure of NOA NUJ Chapels.
“That NOA NUJ members will take necessary steps to safeguard our right to free association within the law if our request is not granted within a reasonable time.
“That we direct our members all over the country to continue to conduct their affairs lawfully until further directives,” they stated.