By Anderson Hart

The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has accused the Rivers State Bureau of Public Procurement (BoPP) of frustrating efforts by the state government to construct the Union's secretariat in Port Harcourt, thereby perpetuating the refugee status of the Union in the state.

The Union said the BoPP has ensured that approval for the construction of the proposed NUJ House was not given, more than one year after the demolition the former structures, and about three years after the de-roofing of the Ernest Ikoli Press Centre Complex by a devastating windstorm.

Chairman of NUJ in the state, Mr. Opaka Dokubo, who said this while speaking at a one-day symposium to mark the 2013 World Press Freedom Day in Port Harcourt, tongue-lashed the BoPP over some inadvertent lapses which could not have reared their ugly heads if the Union's secretariat had been rebuilt.

Dokubo observed that the lapses could have marred the planned celebration of the World Press Freedom Day event in Port Harcourt, noting that the issues of convenient venue for holding press conferences and meeting as well as lack of office space for operational purposes were major challenges for the Union.

He stated that the state government, through the Ministry of Information and Communications, had made all efforts for the BoPP to vet and approve the tender documents for award of contract to reconstruct the NUJ House, to no avail.

According to the NUJ boss, the necessity for the project, which had been justified at both State Executive Council and the House of Assembly, and adequate funds appropriated in the 2012 Budget, was still being questioned by the Bureau.

Dokubo stated that the executive of the Union in the state had done everything under the sun to reach the leadership of the BoPP to explain issues, but the Bureau has continued to shut its doors against the Union.

He argued that the
Bureau appears to be deliberately delaying kick-starting the well-intentioned NUJ House to ensure that it was not rebuilt by the Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi-led administration. #