Socio-Economic Implications of Downfall of Naira
The Socio-Economic Implications of The Downfall of The Naira: A News Analysis by Solomon Asowata, Lydia Ngwakwe and Rukayat Moisemhe
Financial experts say the continuous downfall of the Naira has worsened the living standards of Nigerians and made inflation to rise.
The experts told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews that if the local currency continued to fall against the dollar, it could pose great consequences for the economy.
A professor of Finance and Capital Market, Uche Uwaleke, said that the free fall of the Naira was not in the interest of the economy.
“The consequences are grave for the economy. The rising inflationary pressure is not unconnected with imported inflation.
“The official exchange rate which is now higher than the 2022 budgeted figure will end up widening the government’s budget deficit.
“It will equally increase oil subsidy, which may push the economy into deeper debt.
“Again, in terms of the naira equivalent of servicing government foreign loans, the burden will also increase,’’ he said.
According to Uwaleke, the only benefit of naira depreciation is to the Federal Government and the Sub Nationals which naira equivalent of the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) distribution might increase.
“But of what use is an increase in the quantity of money which value is eroded by inflation?
“Naira depreciation ordinarily should help the country’s Balance of Payments position through discouraging imports and making exports cheaper.
“Unfortunately, this does not happen given Nigeria’s weak export base and Nigerians penchant for foreign goods.’’
He said that Nigeria needed a strong currency to be able to provide the required leadership in Africa, especially in the context of African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
Sheriffdeen Tella, a Professor of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, said the downfall of the naira was what caused the rising inflation.
“Its what is causing inflation and difficulty in production presently.
“Prolonged situation can affect employment and general welfare of citizens, just as it can cause expected global recession arising from the Russian war with Ukraine which will affect Nigeria in no small measure,’’ he said.
Ndubisi Nwokoma, the Director of the Centre for Economic Policy Analysis and Research of the University of Lagos, Akoka, urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to increase the supply of foreign exchange and manage demand.
“The fall of the Naira has had serious socio-economic implications for the average Nigerian. Inflation has been skyrocketing and living standards getting worse. Challenges of insecurity also add to all these,’’ he said.
The downfall of the naira has had a huge impact on the oil and gas industry as well, which is critical to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
The situation is further worsened by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine with the price of crude oil averaging about 120 dollars per barrel in recent weeks.
This has led to a rise in the prices of petroleum products such as Jet A1 (aviation fuel) diesel, kerosene, Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) as well as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (cooking gas).
Presently, the cost of diesel ranges from N650 to N800 per litre across the country, while aviation fuel according to domestic airline operators is selling for between N600 and N700 per litre depending on the location.
Similarly, kerosene is retailing at N650 per litre in some filling stations while a 12.5kg cooking gas cylinder is being sold at between N9,000 to N10,000 to end users.
According to the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), the landing cost of PMS is currently above N400 per litre, compelling the Federal Government to spend huge amounts in subsidising the product to retail for N165 per litre.
Mr Clement Isong, the Executive Secretary, MOMAN, empathised with Nigerians and the government over the challenges being faced as a result of the rising cost of crude and its derivatives at the international market.
He said lack of access to foreign exchange was one of the reasons for the increment in the retail prices of aviation fuel and diesel.
Isong also decried the subsidising of petrol by the government with huge funds that could be deployed to other critical areas of the economy such as education, health care and infrastructure development.
“A return to cost recovery and free market and competitive economics (including access to foreign exchange at competitive rates) is inevitable for the sustainability of the production and distribution framework in the petroleum downstream industry,’’ he said.
Mrs Nkechi Obi, the Managing Director, of Techno Gas Ltd. also called on the Federal Government to intervene in halting the rising price of cooking gas in the country.
Obi, who made the appeal while speaking during a panel session at the recently concluded Nigerian Content Midstream and Downstream Oil and Gas Conference in Lagos, said the product was becoming unaffordable to Nigerians.
Obi said since marketers were importing over 60 per cent of the LPG consumed in Nigeria, it was imperative that the government should make forex available to them at competitive rates.
Obi said this would reduce the cost of the product and make it affordable for Nigerians who were already returning to using kerosene stoves and firewood for cooking.
Mr Michael Umudu, the National Chairman, the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Retailers (LPGAR) branch of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), described the situation as worrisome for both retailers and consumers.
“The worrisome aspect of this development is that it has continued to rise on daily basis for weeks now but began to escalate in the last few weeks leading to significant increases in both depots and retail outlets.
“For us as retailers, it is a big problem because we can’t even afford to stock up our shops and even when we do, it will take time before we can make enough sales to get back our investments.
“What we find now is that people even bring in 12.5kg cylinders but opt to fill them with less than 6kg of gas just to manage at home.’’
Umudu, therefore, appealed to the government to create a dedicated forex window for LPG importers to help bring down the cost of cooking gas.
Dr Muda Yusuf, an economist attributed the downfall of the naira to consequences of the CBN fixed exchange rate regime and administrative allocation of foreign exchange.
Yusuf, also founder, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprises (CPPEs), said the policies had created a huge enterprise around foreign exchange, round tripping, speculation, over invoicing, capital flight among others.
He said that the action of the apex bank amounted to tackling the symptoms rather than dealing with the causative factors, which was not a sustainable solution.
“It is regrettable that the CBN does not believe in the market mechanism, yet market systems are time tested as instruments of efficient resource allocation in leading economies around the world.
“Of course, market failures are recognised in economics, and these cases are exceptions that can be identified and dealt with.
“A market based management framework will restore calmness and stability to the foreign exchange market.
“Although, there may be a momentary spike in the exchange rate, but stability and gradual appreciation of the rate would follow soon after.
“Suppressing the market is like swimming against the tide, it is a difficult battle to win,” he said.
Yusuf likened moving retail forex transactions from Bureau De Change (BDC) to the banks to “kicking the can down the road’’, stating that the same issues would manifest even with the banks.
He noted that the BDCs were generally more accessible, required minimum documentation, had short response time and better interface with the Small and Medium Enterprises and the informal sector, the dominant players in the Nigerian economy.
He said that the way out of this free fall of the Naira was for the CBN to allow the market to function.
Yusuf said it was also imperative for the apex bank to de-emphasise demand management and focus on strategies to stimulate foreign exchange inflows.
According to him, a fixed exchange rate regime is a major disincentive to inflows as it creates enormous pressure of demand for foreign exchange.
Dr Chinyere Almona, the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), noted that the Naira had recorded unprecedented volatility already in the first quarter of 2022.
This, she said was due to the widening premium between the official (NAFEX) rate at N415 per dollar and the BDC/Parallel market rate of N580.
She said that the position of industrialists was for the monetary authorities to liberalise the foreign exchange market by unifying the multiple rates and ensuring that the rates were market-driven.
This, Almona posited was critical to the process of enhancing stability, liquidity, and transparency in the foreign exchange market.
She said the unification would improve the country’s currency management framework given that the multiple exchange rate systems had been creating uncertainty issues and sources of arbitrage.
“The CBN needs to initiate a gradual transition to a unified exchange rate system and allow for a market reflective exchange rate.
“The currency market is still beset with persisting liquidity challenges evidenced in the wide premium between the NAFEX and parallel market rates.
“To consolidate on the interventions earlier initiated, the CBN needs to roll out more friendly supply-side policies to boost liquidity in the market.
“This would help bolster investor confidence and attract foreign investment inflows into the economy.
Almona also stressed the need for more deliberate efforts toward making the business environment more conducive for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and large corporates at the national, subnational, and local government levels are imperative.
Surviving Lassa fever in Nigeria: The stories of Ngozi and Oluchi
Surviving Lassa fever in Nigeria: The stories of Ngozi and Oluchi
By: Michael Mike
“My mother-in-law asked me how I was feeling, and I told her I was fine, but I knew I was not,” says Ngozi, a 28-year-old petty trader from Abakaliki. “I was stooling, vomiting and couldn’t keep my eyes open.” After trying various treatments at home, Ngozi was taken to hospital in Abakaliki, in southeast Nigeria’s Ebonyi state, where she was diagnosed with Lassa fever. “After two days there, my health deteriorated and I even lost consciousness at some point,” she says.
Lassa fever is a haemorrhagic fever that causes serious damage to various organs, reducing the body’s ability to function. The virus is contagious and can spread from person to person via bodily fluids, including saliva, urine, blood, and vomit. The disease affects 100,000 to 300,000 people every year across Western Africa and causes around 5,000 deaths. Last year in Nigeria, there were 8,978 suspected cases and 1,227 confirmed cases of Lassa fever (Nigerian Centre for Disease Control).
The city of Abakaliki has seen repeated outbreaks of the disease since 2018, when an MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) team arrived to help identify people with symptoms and care for patients in Alex-Ekueme Federal Teaching Hospital (AE-FUTHA). Around 600 km further north, a second MSF team has been helping care for patients with Lassa fever in Tafawa Balewa hospital, Bauchi state, since 2022. Last year, the two MSF teams cared for 618 patients with suspected or confirmed Lassa fever.
Spread by rats
Lassa fever is spread by a species of rat which is found mainly in three states in eastern and southern Nigeria: Edo, Ondo and Ebonyi. When infected rodents feed on food that is left out, they leave traces of the virus via their saliva and faeces. The disease usually peaks in the dry season when rats scavenge for food around people’s houses.
“Transmission of Lassa fever occurs throughout the year, but large seasonal outbreaks occur during the dry season, from December to April, when rats leave the fields to find food from other sources, such as people’s houses,” says Ben Uzoma, MSF health promotion manager.
To help tackle the disease at source, MSF has launched a ‘vector control strategy’ in local communities in Abakaliki, which includes setting rat traps, using rodenticides and sharing health information messages on proper waste management, food preparation and storage.
When a person is infected with the virus, they may experience symptoms including a fever, body aches, a stomach-ache and vomiting – symptoms very similar to those of malaria, which can make it difficult to identify cases of Lassa fever in a timely manner.
Oluchi, a 26-year-old mother of four, from Ebonyi state, does not know how she contracted the disease, but she recalls when the symptoms started. “I started having a high fever and was vomiting,” she says. “My husband took me to a private hospital, where I was administered malaria medication, but the symptoms only worsened. The doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me, so they referred me to Alex-Ekueme hospital to test for Lassa fever.”
To help detect cases of Lassa fever early, MSF has developed a screening form in collaboration with Alex-Ekueme hospital, with which healthcare workers can spot suspected cases by recording and analysing patients’ general and major symptoms and matching it with their health history and contact with rodents or an infected person.
As soon as a patient arrives at AE-FUTHA with suspected Lassa fever, they are admitted to the hospital’s isolation centre, built by MSF. Patients who test positive are immediately moved to the ‘virology unit’ for treatment. This barrier measure is put in place to separate Lassa fever patients from other patients and minimise the risk of infection for healthcare workers and patients’ relatives.
“After my test came out positive, I started receiving treatment,” says Ngozi. “They gave me food, water, and everything I needed. So many doctors and nurses constantly checked on me throughout the day, and after seven days my test results came out negative.”
Contracting Lassa fever can take a toll on one’s emotional and psychological wellbeing. MSF mental health teams provide counselling and psychosocial support to patients with suspected or confirmed Lassa fever throughout their hospital stay, through individual and group discussions, as well as playing games and doing puzzles.
“My healing was rapid and I received a lot of support from mental health counsellors,” says Ngozi. “They were always present during my treatment.”
Oluchi’s experience with Lassa was so harrowing that she thought she was going to die. “I got so scared at the thought of dying – I was terrified,” she says. “But one of the MSF mental health counsellors came often to comfort me and told me not to worry.”
Before discharge, patients are provided with information on expected symptoms and potential mental health impacts, so they are well-informed and prepared for life as a survivor of Lassa fever. Patients’ families also receive support from the mental health team to help them understand and deal with their relatives’ condition. “At the time, I was short-tempered,” remembers Ngozi. “Thankfully, my family understood why, as the mental health counsellor had informed them beforehand.”
Challenges of tackling Lassa fever
Despite MSF’s efforts, challenges remain in tackling outbreaks of the disease in Nigeria. These include a lack of awareness among health workers, a shortage of training and research on Lassa fever, limited resources in comparison to the cost of treatment, and limited access to healthcare facilities. Alex-Ekueme Federal Teaching Hospital is the only treatment centre for Lassa fever in southeast Nigeria, while most hospitals across Western Africa are not fully equipped to handle complex cases.
Meanwhile, for many people with symptoms, seeking medical attention in a hospital remains the last choice. Sick people usually start by consulting medicine sellers or traditional healers, with the result that patients often show up late at hospital with severe complications. By this stage, their chances of survival may be slim.
Survivors of Lassa fever also often face stigma from their communities due to a widespread lack of knowledge about the disease; some people mistakenly believe that survivors are contagious and that catching the disease is a sign of poor hygiene or a punishment from God.
“When I returned home, I was excluded by my peers,” says Oluchi. “There was a rumour going around that I had been in the mortuary because of how skinny I was. People were running away from me because of the contagious nature of the disease.”
After leaving hospital and returning to their communities, survivors continue to receive support from MSF’s mental health staff, who do their best to ensure that they are reintegrated back into their communities.
Working with communities
At the same time, MSF health promoters work with communities to counter misinformation and lack of knowledge about Lassa fever. “We let people know that those who have been treated and cured from Lassa fever are no longer contagious,” says Uzoma.
During the peak season of the disease, MSF’s health promotion teams organise health education and community engagement activities, targeting religious centres, markets, and schools in hotspot areas. With the help of flyers, leaflets, flip charts, demonstrations and radio spots, the teams share information on Lassa fever and make sure that people know where they can receive free medical care.
The work of MSF’s health promoters continues year-round. “We know that behavioural change does not happen instantly and that we must continuously talk about it before people start changing,” says Uzoma.
Surviving Lassa fever in Nigeria: the stories of Ngozi and Oluchi
UMTH: How Professor Ahidjo’s Transformation Agenda Impacted the Information Unit
UMTH: How Professor Ahidjo’s Transformation Agenda Impacted the Information Unit
By: James Bwala
The UMTH PR and Information Department is statutorily responsible for presenting the hospital objectives, decisions, and actions in their true and most desirable perspective, contributing to the awareness of governments, institutions, and the general public about UMTH and its activities, while presenting UMTH as a professional institution in the field of medicine, data analysis, and projections. But until the CMD took deliberate steps to rejigger this unit, many stories about the transformation that has been going on in this institution would barely get to the public.
The PR and Information Unit has performed primarily on internal communications, leading a traditional way of telling its stories only to a very few individuals without much effort to tell its story beyond the four corners of the hospital. In fact, many staff confesses to the fact that they have started getting readily available information on the activities going on in the hospital with driven interest only when the CMD took over and shifted focus to getting the public’s attention through the active reporting of its activities.
“The decision of the management team to engage public media professionals has helped the hospital in no small way in our efforts to achieve the desired outcome for our activities. It has also strategically helped us in blowing our trumpet to what we have achieved as well as shielding us from mischieve makers and armed chair commentators about what is and what is not and all the yes and no questions that we have to say for ourselves, especially in the court of public opinion or in the circle of murky waters when mischievous individuals seek to pull up in their fashion.” The CMD said this during a chat with NEWSng.
Professor Ahidjo had been in the system long enough to understand the matrix of operations and lead a management that speaks volumes about its achievements. Therefore, when he came as CMD, he understood that the department and unit he needed to work closely with was also the PR and Information Unit, as it holds the key to making the day better if given the needed attention to function well. With the new approach to gatekeeping, he quickly moves to ensure that he increases staff strength and conditioning by training and retraining through consultancies for results.
“There are improvements in the quality of staff because Ahidjo also engaged some journalists to work with the information department to achieve the desired results. He also bought the necessary equipment for quality production from a videographer to steal cameras and computers. The information unit at the UMTH is now better. It has been very silent in the past, but since Professor Ahidjo came in as CMD, the information department has come alive. Although not without some little needs for improvement, the work that Professor Ahidjo did in transforming the PR and Information Unit is commendable. What I think is needed at the moment is for the unit to grow into a directorate since the federal government has given approval for such across the federal institutions. If this unit is upgraded to a directorate, it is going to have a greater impact on discharging duty.. Dauda Iliya, the Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists in Borno State, who has been close to the information department, made this observation while speaking to NEWSng on the current relationship the journalists in Borno enjoy with the PR and Information Unit at UMTH.
Speaking also to a cross-section of journalists in Maiduguri, they said that
In many organizations or institutions, the PR and Information Unit remains in the background or relegated in significance, but at the UMTH, it is understood that the administrator is well informed about their duties and always carries the department along in the discharge of his responsibility. Why an organization or administrator may not have the same understanding as what is obtained under Ahidjo’s management team is largely due to the little or no attention given to this department despite its importance to such an organization or institution.
According to journalists in Borno, the department takes the lead in ensuring that every department or unit is gatekeeper to ensure the right information gets to the public, deescalates rumors, and protects the organization or institution from media mercenaries, who are constantly on a scavenger hunt for negative stories for a targeted analysis, which usually comes hard on the executives and top management of such organizations or institutions. At the UMTH, they recount the number of times journalists visited, and the unit plays the voice and role in linking journalists to either the management or doctors that need to speak concerning their operations, and Professor Ahmed Ahidjo always has his doors open for questions.
In their findings on the relationships established between the PR and Information Unit with journalists in Borno State, media practitioners described the efforts that resulted in such a harmonious relationship with UMTH to largely the accessibility and open-mindedness of the CMD when it comes to media. According to them, it is easy to know who is in charge of an organization or institution from the reception of anyone seeking to make journalistic findings from discussions with the departmental head of the PR and Information Unit.
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“It was different with UMTH under Professor Ahidjo. Several times I go there, and it is easy for me to access the information I need to report on. When it became necessary that I needed to speak with the CMD or CMAC, the connection from the department told me that the management team understood the importance of the information unit..”One of the journalists said:.
While elaborating on his understanding with the PR and Information Unit at UMTH, the Metro-Watch Correspondent, Bodunrin Kayode, told NEWSng that, “I will say that Professor Ahidjo is a PR official himself. He is the No. 1 PR official at UMTH. To me, he is not just an administrator. He is not like other people who just do their job and do not care about the image of their institution. You know there are some people who, when you give them a job, will focus on their job and forget about other things. But in the case of Ahidjo, I will say that he is concerned and cares about the image of the hospital. The few times that I have interacted with him in terms of reporting, he always gives positive input into what should be the outcome. He cares much about what news comes out of the hospital, and as such, he cares to ensure that the right thing is done. He thinks that even though he does not have the power to be 100 percent perfect, he tries to do his best to attract a positive image to the institution, thereby making him very close to the unit that controls the information flow of the institution.
“I think information management is not restricted to professionals; any wise person should care about his or her image and the image of the organization he or she is heading. It is a fact that Professor Ahidjo is a wise person who can count on that sense. He is very sensitive to reactions to issues coming from within or outside that come to his hearing. I recall a time when a colleague told me about information he received about the hospital, and I asked the CMD for clarification. He said, ‘Kayode, you have been here for a while now to know that such information is not true. That, to me, shows the level of care he has about information filtering about the institution under his administration. This is unlike how some administrators take issues concerning them or their organization and, in the end, fall into trouble.
“Professor Ahmed Ahidjo will always contribute to what is humanly possible. I also think that he has a very good relationship with his staff generally. There was a time I was chatting with the PRO, Mrs. Justina Anaso, and she described the CMD as a “goodman.” In fact, she said that he operates with her department as family. He tries to bring everybody close. The CMD has been very creative, and his impact is felt in all the departments and units in the UMTH. Although I will say that there are still needs that require attention in the PR and Information Unit, I have seen new faces of staff, which means that the CMD is doing something by bringing more hands to help him achieve more in the hospital. I believe some of the achievements to be made are coming gradually, but in general, he has done much.
“He has created so many centers in the hospital and is working round the clock with his management team to leave a footprint in the hospital. I hope that he will pull out the PR and Information Unit to have their own structure. That is a major impact he has to give them to enable them to operate as a directorate. I believe with a directorate of information, he will create a newsroom where journalists can come to brainstorm and create more positive impact for effective coverage of the activities in this large hospital.”
UMTH: How Professor Ahidjo’s Transformation Agenda Impacted the Information Unit
Press centre and the year 2023 in review: OF NUJ, PROFESSIONAL LAPSES AND THE HELPLESSNESS OF THE ZONAL OFFICES
Press centre and the year 2023 in review: OF NUJ, PROFESSIONAL LAPSES AND THE HELPLESSNESS OF THE ZONAL OFFICES
By: Bodunrin Kayode
One of the greatest weaknesses of any State council of the Nigerian Union of journalists NUJ and it’s inability to unionize effectively is communication. This is also the reason why some state councils struggle to call for congresses where they are made to account for their stewardship. Sadly, a lot of our colleagues who are elected as leaders sometimes fail to realize that the greatest weapon anyone of us comrades can use to quench strife is the engagement of the entire congress in effective communication of the truth. The mere fact that we call ourselves comrades from the days of Baba Jolaosho, to Sani Zoro up till today means that we are still under pressure to give ourselves good governance. Some of us are yet to understand that we are an elite group of professionals who should have some level of entitlement in our press centre like the lawyers have in their Bar centre. Not the present situation in which real members cannot “breath” while non members evade the centre as if they are stake holders in the place. They crowd themselves in our reception room in the name of watching football and sometimes make life difficult for members who want to concentrate and breath properly even during news conferences and seminars. They perpetuate all these wrongs in our professional space because the press centre committee has not been able to stamp its foot down and bring proper solution to the myriads of problems in the place. How many passerbys can be able to evade the maiduguri Bar Centre in the name of watching European football the way these ones are doing to us? What is wrong in creating a viewing centre for them even for free in the front arena which is public space where they belong if we so love them? When will the press centre committee wake up to its responsibilities and stop this evasion of even our recently furnished hall all in the name of charging of phones by these band wagon of entitlement monsters? What do they have in common with journalists that they want to become members of the NUJ through the backdoor without registration? And why is the centre committee leaving all its responsibilities to the executive to carry out? Is this a signal that they are so inept that congress should begin to think of taking action against them? So many questions have come up with this madness that needs answers.
To an ordinary member of the NUJ, good governance means maximization of the phenomenon of welfarism that will take us to the next level of this present economy which has been badly affected by the withdrawal of petroleum subsidy. Not the present choke up mentality being experienced in the centre in which non members are impeding us from breathing. You cannot discuss matters affecting our union freely without non members picking it up for the front shop gossip mill which flourishes there. But I don’t blame them 100 percent. These were seeds sowed long ago which the present exco led by chairman Dauda Ilya are trying to up root. And uproot we shall, even with the help of our Zonal bosses.
When a particular breed of Comrades of the NUJ decide within themselves that it’s not important to call for congresses to intimate its members about what is pending and what has been done, it’s for their own good. And when a particular executive decides to forgo the very act especially when it concerns the selling of part of the commonwealth of the comrades for a paltry N14 million going by not to recent exchange rate without permission of congress, we all saw what happened to them. However, we have equally seen what the regular exercise of congress by the current council has done to correct that kind of heinous crime which has virtually destroyed the credibility and comradeship any one of them can offer even if the entire land was recovered. The truth is that gone are the days when comrades stayed away from congress or the press centre because of insurgency. We now have a new era in which a lot is done in a transparent manner and when colleagues fail to attend they know what the present resolution on that is now and why they will be shooting themselves on the foot by abstaining from congress. From what the chair of the NUJ Comrade Dauda Ilya revealed in the last congress, the last has not yet been heard about that land even though a large chunk is said to have been recovered from the erring fellows concerned. But for the pressure of the election into the nawoj Presidency which was a cause to be fulfilled, the last congress for the year should have been held to spill the outcome of such challenges on ground. Thank God our our own Comrade Aisha Ibrahim brought the trophy home.
Review of activities of the NUJ Borno Council within 2023
2023 review cannot be concluded without the mention of a recent round table organized by the NUJ to refresh members on the myriad of expectations of members during their practice as professionals. The forum held at Dijuma hotel in Maiduguri attracted a lot of speakers including Professor Danjuma Gambo who went into the nitty gritty of how to walk, talk and every other thing concerning practice of the profession which young people are supposed to know. He spoke on virtually every thing under the sun even our press centre which has been taken over by hoodlums in the name of helping us do what our meagre checkoff dues cannot do over the years. To the meticulous Professor, congress is a strict expectation for the practice for you, if you answer the name of a journalist in this country. You should be able to discipline yourself or be disciplined to fall in line with the Constitution.
The scholar believed that in Borno, practitioners have tested indiscipline a lot and that is why NUJ in Borno State has not been able to mobilize its members in certain areas before now. To him, the advent of the new leadership should change all that if we support the new chairman Comrade Dauda Ilya. And journalists should face the job squarely and stop being afraid of death because signing for the job alone means signing to pay the ultimate sacrifice like soldiers.
Hear his strong remarks : “Most of the reporters here are not doing a thorough job. They will follow the Governor and when there is one delegation from the UN they will follow with all the security at least for protection. But they don’t want to die, and I repeat, they don’t want to leave Maiduguri on their own to go and do investigative reports for fear of death. They are violating the word travel because of the risks involved.
” The real thing to do is to make arrangements with the military, go and cover events on your own and come back. But they will not do it. They have become city people and that is not the kind of culture that we should be promoting in the industry.
” NUJ is not made up of lazy people. In fundamentals of journalism, we teach students and all of you who were in our department in particular in the mass communication programs we teach our students in journalism, to say things as they see it. Journalism has being a very risky profession. It is very risky in the war theatre. We have never put them in the line. Look in our own analog days we were told that journalism is not for the lilly livered humans. So why are you not doing this, because you say “ba insurance”, no life insurance. Let the Union achieve that insurance. That is a union matter “
Helpless, irrelevant and motherless nature of Zonal offices.
While stretching his tentacles into the workings of the Zonal offices, the Prof went on: ” Finally I want to look at the connection between the national, the local branches of the NUJ. I mean, the National, the zonal and then the state chapter and the government. That is where you have the weakest link, each of them looks motherless……general laughter……
“The National secretariat is just hanging up there. It is the state of the union we are talking about. Because nobody challenges them. Iziguzo and Shaibu Liman are my friends. Shaibu Liman is a very senior journalist, I don’t know if he has retired now. A very senior journalist by any standard, very intelligent, extremely intelligent. If you sit with him, you will know that he is intelligent. But the National Secretariat is just standing alone in Abuja.
” They don’t care about result. The constitution made provision for zonal and state structures and chapels. Just as the national does not care about the zone. In fact the zone is so irrelevant, there is nothing happening around them. And so is the relationship between the zone and the State government. Why is the zonal chairman of NUJ not in in this history being made? This is a very big event equivalent to the national delegates congress that should be attended by the zonal chairman. But because they don’t care, they actually do not care, that is it. People want to be elected but they don’t want to work for it.
“Then when it comes to ceremony they wear their vest then come and say “ Na zo nan” where?… Laughter…. . When it comes to sharing formula you see zonal, you see national, you see state, you see chapel. Its a shame. And they are hailing them, if there is no need for zonal arrangements in the constitution, go and amend it. Go to the delegates congress and remove the something. Because it is not relevant.
We expect greater corporation from the correspondents…. GAMBO
“Now for the state and the chapels, from what we have seen from Dauda Ilya and his team, at least during the campaign, they went round the chapels and then after the election they went back again and thanked the chapels. What we should understand is that, from the state up to the National, in political terms, chapels are the original indigenes of NUJ. You don’t understand, maybe you don’t know the powers, the most powerful chapel is the correspondents as it where. And the chapel is like the board level of our under party. That is how the chapel is. But what we have is the other way round, the state will look down upon this chapels. If the chapels wants to conspire against the state chairman, they can even remove him from office, but that is not my worry. My worry is the relationship between the state council and the chapels. It is a thorny issue in all the states of the federation, where the correspondents chapel in particular has assumed supremacy, because they think that they are the intellectual, they are the most senior journalists. I am speaking from experience, I was also a sports correspondent before. Chairman here, now a teacher was also a correspondent. So, I am speaking with authority, I am not saying what I don’t know and by age and experience I am senior to many of you people, so I am qualifed to speak. That relationship still exists. Because you see what has happened is that it is a correspondent that has become a chairman of the NUJ. What we expect is greater cooperation, particularly from correspondents.
” You cannot afford to abandon the ship. But most importantly you must acquire respect, no matter how you feel about yourself. You are only an individual representing one of your relation. You cannot rise above the state council. Constitutionally the state council is the authority and should be respected. I am not saying this for theoretical purposes. No!! That is not what I am saying, practically you must be seen to respect the state council. Whether the political or the professional council, because we have seen historically what has happened here in Borno, we can see in Yobe, in Adamawa and in other places. It is not reference that is in Borno you have dispute between the correspondents chapel and the state council. Its a rare example . And I don’t know what it will take to change it, because it has become almost impossible. Why, because the state government regards the correspondent chapel as about the only chapel. As about the only body to relate to. So, if correspondents are reporting the state very well and positively, the state government will not bother about particularly state media personnel. Because they can always direct them to do as they wish. But times have changed.
“Now you have more private outfits doing broadcasting in particular. And in fact, now that we have a chairman from the correspondents chapel, the politics must change, you see how is it. Initially they were from this side and the others are on the other side. But now, it’s one of their own that is chapel chair and even the vice chairman… General laughter……. “Alhamdullillahi”.
“I want to appeal for the sake of God, this is the last word I want to recommend. I want to appeal, for the sake of journalism. In the name of God, please correspondents should try to make significant contributions. You can use your influence, there is no problem. But when it comes to professional matters please give space to the constitution and the council is the highest level we operate. And whoever is the chairman of the council should be respected. And it should follow the other way round that those of you who are in the state media, please and please cooperate with this excos which is headed by the correspondents.
” Because, journalism, unionism is a two way street. As you are going other people are coming and you need to improve. Anything short of that will always spell disaster with NUJ, I wish you well. I look forward to more productive engagement with the union and I assure you that any time you have any issue that is not beyond human comprehension, we will provide the answer. And I will be there, I will not fear, I will talk, I will act but at least let us not talk and drop the talk now here, no, lets act. Thank you.
NUJ to sponsor the training of at least 30 journalists by the end of 2026
Responding in a vote of thanks, chairman of the NUJ Comrade Dauda Ilya was full of praises for his teachers that lined up to support him and the entire council in the two days program. His words: “I think I must be up standing, because of the caliber of people on the high table. They were all my teachers, they are my mentors, my seniors. Part of the take aways, I had was the statement made, that NUJ needs radical and surgical operations to make progress to the next level. Indeed, the NUJ knows that, and we also know that the task ahead of us is huge.
“For you to gather journalists, about 70 to 80 of them in one location for 2 days, is not an easy task. We all have our engagements yet we are here. But because of the commitment we had, we all listened and refreshed from our scholars.
” Prof sir, you’ve challenged us and we’ve taken the challenge head on. The issue of Investigative publications, by the grace of God, we will see how we can start gathering the informations that you said. By the grace of God before the end of my administration in the next 2 years Insha Allah, we would have documented the history of journalistic experience from members of NUJ in the war theatre.
One of those things that bothered me when I was campaigning and even when I was not campaigning was the issue of professionalism that you mentioned. Imagine a chapel in which for 3 years they were running on care taker management. And what was the challenge? They don’t have enough qualified members. We heard that, yes there were officials or members that do not have the requisite qualification to practice or even represent members in the position there. Yes, we had some elders or senior colleagues that had previous prerequisite qualifications to practice, but they were not interested in coming up to contest. So, those of them who were interested don’t have the requisite qualification to practice. These are problems we met on ground.
Education endowment for members
“And we fail to know the way to come out during time we needed to change it. And that is why, we said we now have an endowment. Education endowment where we train our members, not only training per say but to have a requisite qualification practice. And we said at least every year we have resolved to see that we secure admission for our members free of charge. Buy forms for them free of charge and for you to secure the admission for University we will register you for the first year and then we see your commitment and you are able to perform then we pay, or give you some percentage at least at the diploma level for you to have the basic qualification for practice. We are targeting to train at least 10 journalists from across the chapel for the next 3 years. So, we are targeting 30 journalists by the end of 2026. So that’s why I am also putting the chapel leadership into it so that all of us have a list of your members that are lacking this basic qualification practice. So, that we see how we start this, because the Universities are now back, so they will start recruitment or admission very soon.
” Even before becoming the chairman of NUJ, one of the advices he gave me was training meal assessment. Yes, we know we are not involved in some chapel by sampling members that are very vital intellectually and to also have those that are less. We have come out with the template and we gave to the chapel leader, to do needs training assessment where our members are lacking Where do we need training, well which areas. At the end of it our trainers will train based on priorities of our members and this will be one of the takeaways of our colleagues.
“Let me use this opportunity to thank profoundly Prof Danjuma Gambo for his commitment to NUJ. The discussion started on phone Prof, we have this program, and he said I will come and participate, despite the fact that he was bereaved he lost his sister. But he came back, to see that the prog did not end without his participation. Thank you very much prof for coming and we really appreciate. Likewise, my lecturers here, my second supervisor, we are grateful. I think if we are discussing with our members or we are trying to see that we correct some of the anomalies it would not seem as if we don’t want or we don’t like new faces. This is how the chapel needs to take their actions by trying to stamp discipline among our members and the leadership also.
So Prof. Sharafa, thank you very much for coming, lastly to our senior colleague Dr. Ahmed Ditto also a committed member of NUJ, thank you very much sir for coming. And for our senior sister, Comrade Aisha Ibrahim, our leader in this problem, she will work with us. We know how committed she has been for the progress of the union. And whatever you need as support we are here for you and we will make sure that we support you. So, thank you very much for coming. Our senior colleague Patrick Mark thanks for participating. Since yesterday he has been seated and up to this moment he is still here. We really appreciate you sir. For the local, organizing committee chaired by the vice chairman Abdulsalam, secretary Chiroma Ibrahim Ali, Chairperson nawoj, and many others, thank you very much for the job done. And this shows that any committee that we are prosecuting should take a lead from what, the local organizing committee has done. Because they have done marvelously well in organizing this 2 day training. To our members, thank you very much for coming.
As for our new, colleagues also, who came all the way from Kano, Abuja, Mustapha Mohammed, thank you very much for coming and by the Grace of God we will soon invite you to come and participate in some of our activities. So, thank you very much for coming dear colleagues and I will miss your deliberations because formality came from you like prof said, “ what do you expect from this leadership.”
The year was quite eventful as so many friends of ours stopped over in the centre. One particular one I cannot forget in a hurry is the former CP Abdu Umar now AIG.
I wish to use this opportunity to congratulate the brand new Nawoj National Chairperson Comrade Aisha Ibrahim. I also want to believe that a proper reorganization of the association will take place during her reign with a lot of reach out programs associated with their very existence. Congratulations as we welcome 2024.
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