By Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
With eviction staring it in the face following the expiration of its tenancy on a rented office the Abia State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has decided to embark on self-help initiative to realise its permanent secretariat project abandoned by the state government.
Since the inception of Abia NUJ in 1993 the Council has been using a rented office accommodation as its secretariat or NUJ Press Centre. Hope rose in 2014 when the administration of Senator Theodore Orji embarked on the construction of a permanent NUJ secretariat at Ogurube Layout but the project was not completed before the end of the administration.
To worsen the situation the present administration of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has shown no interest in completing the NUJ secretariat project. Not only that, the government has also withdrawn the standing gesture of paying rent for NUJ office accommodation. All previous administrations had assisted the Abia NUJ to pay rent for its temporary accommodation pending the time it would get a permanent secretariat like other State Councils.
Chairman of Abia NUJ broke the news of imminent eviction to journalists during the July Congress of the State Council, saying that the permanent secretary, government house, Mr. Onyi Wamah had already informed him of government’s decision to stop paying NUJ rent.
Emejo said that with the sad development of possible eviction “time has come for the State Council to take the bull by the horn by making personal sacrifice to build our own secretariat” instead of being at the mercy of landlords and benefactors every year.
He said that the executive committee of the Council had decided that every member of Abia NUj must make a financial contribution to the tune of at least N2,500 toward erecting a temporary accommodation pending the completion of the permanent secretariat.
Members of the Abia Council of NUJ also agreed to solicit the support of friends and well-wishers towards the realisation of the permanent secretariat project.
“We can do it. It is not impossible and I am optimistic it can be realised within four months,” the State Council chairman said.
The news of Abia government’s decision to stop further payment of rent for NUJ secretariat elicited heated discussions with speaker after speaker condemning the unfriendly disposition of the state government towards journalists.
They expressed their readiness to contribute their quota to ensure the timely completion of the project before the expiration of the current rent.