Delta state Commissioner for Information, Mr Patrick Ukah and the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Mr Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, are embroiled in an allege battle of supremacy over who controls and installs the new chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ) Delta State Council.
There was serious uproar among journalists 20th of April, 2017 at the Labour House, Asaba, during election of the state chapter of NUJ, forcing the National body of the Union to suspend the election.
Shortly after the dissolution of the Comrade Norbert Chiazor-led executive, there was an uproar among top management staff of the Ministry of Information and wife of former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Comrade Mrs Stella Macaulay who insisted that Comrade Chiazor must render to the full house his stewardship, especially the finances.
Another uproar was recorded which degenerated into physical combat in a quarter between the former Secretary, Churchill Oyowe and a journalist (name withheld) and a near bloodbath which led to the indefinite postponement of the Union’s election, followed protest embarked by delegates and candidates over doctored lists of delegates by some leaders and members of the Union working towards the successful installation of Okowa’s alleged preferred candidate.
A protest which ensued in the process of manoeuvring of the elections gained momentum when those allegedly working for the Information Commissioner stood their ground that the doctored delegates lists must be used for the election and on the other hand, other delegates maintained that the legally recognised compendium which has names of all registered Journalists in the state must be used to conduct the elections.
On why the state Commissioner for Information, Mr Ukah and the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Aniagwu are allegedly at logger head over who controls and installs the new chairman of NUJ, it was alleged that Mr Aniagwu had earlier discussed with the governor on the need to anoint a candidate that can work for his interest during the 2019 general elections which the governor succumbed to but, Mr. Ukah who is already floating his preferred candidate purportedly moved against the choice of the CPS and succeeded in brainwashing the governor to anoint an Ika candidate, and the governor was said to have bought into Ukah’s choice.
“This role played by Mr. Ukah got the Chief Press Secretary offended and the battle line was drawn between the two appointees of Governor Okowa. During the Thursday’s election that was aborted, you will recalled that Mr. Aniagwu was fully on ground sharing money to delegates, distributing all sort of drinks to people while Mr. Ukah was somewhere controlling with his mobile phones and his Media Assistant, Mr. Samuel Ijeh was on ground giving him feedback through phone conversation”, it was further alleged.
It was observed that, an aide to the governor on New Media and Patani local government chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), Mr Godspower Asiughwu and the Executive Assistant on Orientation to the governor, Mr Eugene Uzum were also on ground to give the CPS full backing against the Information Commissioner.
Our correspondent gathered that the Commissioner for Information, Mr Ukah had allegedly vowed to fight to finish with the last drop of his blood to see that his chosen candidate is installed as the Delta state chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists against the bidding of the CPS.
Following the already charged environment, the NUJ electoral committee and the national officers of NUJ from Abuja, led by Mr. Gbemiga Bamidele, Assistant National Secretary went into a closed door meeting and issued a press statement for the postponement of the election with the inauguration of a 5-man committee to come out with plans to within three months to conduct fresh election devoid of crisis.
In a press release tagged “Aborted NUJ Delta State Council Election”, endorsed by the Assistant National Secretary, Mr. Gbemiga Bamidele, and made available to SEC, and read in parts says,
“Consequent upon the inability to conduct the election for members of State Working Council (SWC) of Delta State Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), scheduled on April, 20th, 2017, a five (5) man caretaker committee has been inaugurated in accordance with the Article 5c (9c) of the constitution of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
“The caretaker committee has Daniel Orji (DBS Warri,) as Chairman, Osuyi Paul (Asaba Correspondent), Secretary, Rita Agbra Eloho (NTA Asaba), member, Sunday Egede (Pointer), member, and Emmanuel Ekebe (Isoko Chapel), member, were elected from a meeting of thirty five (35) chairmen and secretaries of sixteen (16) chapels of NUJ in Delta state.
“The caretaker committee shall take over and run the affairs of the Union and conduct fresh elections within three (3) months as stipulated in NUJ constitution. We seek for understanding and cooperation of members of the public with this committee and the union please.” the statement concluded.
The four chairmanship contesters in the aborted Delta state NUJ election, are Comrades Victor Sorokwu of Daily Trust, Fidelis Egugbo, Michael Ikeogwu both of the state owned newspaper, THE POINTER, and Felix Igbekoyi of the Daily Independent Newspapers.
After the failed election, Aniagwu took his candidates and their supporters to West End, a bar spot where he allegedly lavished tax payers money on food and drinks even as it was also alleged that some female students were imported from Ogwashi-Uku Polytechnic and Delta State University (DELSU), Anwai Campus to satisfy their sexual desires.
Unconfirmed source alleged that Aniagwu, gave one of the chapel chairmen in Asaba, huge sum of money to woo members of his chapel to vote for his candidate.
Meanwhile, an official of the Delta state government who spoke in confidence, revealed that the sum of N30 million was allegedly made available by the state governor, Mr. Okowa to the state Commissioner for Information, Mr Ukah with instructions to induce some leaders and members of the Union to deliver his anointed candidate as the chairman of the Union.
“We are aware that before the governor travelled to China for an investment drive, the governor released the sum of N30 million to the state Information Commissioner, Mr Ukah, to compromise leaders and delegates in the Union, using some officials of the ministry who are also members of NUJ to carry out the deal”, the official alleged.
It was learnt Mr. Ukah allegedly used part of the money to lodge some NUJ (Conference) Delegates, some compromised leaders of the Union in various hotels in the state capital.
“All the hotels were booked for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The governor’s interest is to use the new state chairman of NUJ to work against all his opponents come 2019 general elections. It is based on this that the governor has made funds available for the near completion of the NUJ Press Centre along Miriam Babaginda Way, Asaba.” our source alleged.
Source: The Nigerian Voice (local news)