- Controversy is brewing among the union of southwest journalists over plans to honour a serving minister
- Majority of the union's members have rejected the move aimed at making Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola the grand patron of the union
- A media rights group has also opposed the move saying the former Osun state governor does not deserve such honour
A civil society organisation, Advocacy for Media Rights, on Wednesday, March 24, rejected the proposed investiture of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as Grand Patron of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the southwest region of Nigeria.
The group made its stance known in a press statement sent to Legit.ng and signed by the national coordinator of the organisation, Comrade Tolu Fatukasi.
The organisation insisted that the personality of Aregbesola who is the current minister of interior, in the public gauge deserves nothing of such recognition.
According to the group, the investiture of an individual as the Grand Patron of a noble union like NUJ should be predicated on established media friendliness and consistent solidarity by such person.
The statement read in part:
“We are indeed taken aback at the mention of Rauf Aregbesola's name for the proposed investiture as the Grand Patron of NUJ in the southwest.
“As a Media Rights group, we have the details of Aregbesola's strained relationship with the media throughout his two-term tenure in office as governor in Osun state.
“Aregbesola was the first governor in the fourth republic to have publicly declared journalists as personal non-grata and enemies of the state.
“By all standards, it is obvious such a personality does not fit into the category of individuals with credentials for Grand Patron of the NUJ in any cluster whatsoever.”
Legit.ng gathered that controversies have continued to trail the proposed investiture as there is a major disagreement among the six state council chairmen in the southwest about the justification for the award on the minister who is a former governor of Osun state.
The union at its zonal meeting on Friday, March 12, had earlier agreed to put the proposed investiture on hold following the leadership crisis in the zone which has been referred to the National Executive Council, NEC, of the union.
During the zonal meeting, the southwest vice president of the union, Cosmos Oni was removed following his retirement from service in accordance with the constitution of the union and appointed the zonal secretary Bamigbola Gbolagunte as the acting vice president.
However, the national secretariat of the union overruled the removal in a letter dated Wednesday, March 17 signed by its national assistant secretary, Akorede Olawale directing the suspension of his removal and allow the NEC for final adjudication as appropriate.
Issues raised against Aregbesola's nomination include an unresolved backlog of workers half salary during his time as governor and his alleged disposition to media practitioners by consistently disparaging them.
But against this decision, a flier suddenly surfaced on social media, purportedly endorsed by Gbolagunte that the award will go on and take place at the NUJ Press Centre, Iyaganku, Ibadan, the capital of Oyo state.
Jerrywright Ukwu is an Abuja-based senior political/defence correspondent at Legit.ng. He is a graduate of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos and the International Institute of Journalism in Abuja. He is also a member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists. He spends his leisure-time reading history books. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.