DELTA STATE NUJ: THE SHAME OF A PROFESSION
If for instance, they have heard something from the postman, they attribute it to a “semi-official” statement. If they have fallen into conversation with a stranger at a bar, they can conscientiously describe him as “a source that has hitherto proved unimpeachable”. It is only when the journalist is reporting a whim of his own, and one to which he attaches minor importance, that he defines it as the opinion of “well-informed circles” - Evelyn Waugh.
Journalism has never been a profession of fan-fare neither is it an all comers affair but sadly enough, it has been a ground where unemployed army of youths pitch their tent. It's due to its perilous nature that it's likened to the sword and even said to be mightier. It is little wonder that literature writers and illiterates have found their way into the profession, especially in Delta State with few honest men among them. Haven practiced in Delta State for years, before going on transfer as a member of this fourth estate of the realm, its an appalling knowledge to be told that the number of quacks has increased in the state, especially in Sapele.
The above quote by Evelyn Waugh is a replica of what happens in Delta Journalism, with connivance from the state council, led by Comrade Nobert Chiazor, a globetrotting journalist, with the state government owned media house. The pen profession I left in delta state can best be described as public relation agencies, who write basically to make ends meet. Now how do I mean? I hate journalism where names are withheld, except names of sources, as such; I'm going to mention names. It is a common knowledge that a member of the Nigerian Union of Journalist must possess a media certificate from a recognized Tertiary institution. It's an undisputed fact that its only graduates of Theatre Arts, Communication Arts and Mass Communication certificate holder that can be said to have a background o the media profession. This is the crux of the matter in Delta State (narrowed down to Sapele) that 99 percent of Sapele chapel of the NUJ do not possess any of this certificate, even from a college of education
Yet insulting it is to the union that they all have valid NUJ identity card. In a bid to unravel how they came about parading the ID card, investigation reveals that during the last NUJ Delta State council election, the incumbent chairman, who was then an aspirant took various names from Sapele to Abuja and pronto, ID cards emerged which validated them to vote for him.
The incumbent chairman of Sapele chapel, Mr. Joe Amina as well as the secretary, Mr. Andrew Owobite though known to be school cert holders, as well as freelancers with Independent Television (ITV) and Pointer newspaper were installed as executives, actions that contravenes the ethics of the profession. With the exception of the vice chairman, Mr. Shedrach Onisha, who is the editor of Urhobo Times, Victor Otuya, a PGD student in International Institute of Journalism (IIJ), Onoriode Onuwafor, an information officer with Ukwuani LGA and George Oporu, a Nigerian Institute of Journalism graduate, all other self acclaimed reporters are school cert holder. Available information from sources in Sapele indicates that Andrew Owobite, the current secretary, who had once been disclaimed on the network service of the NTA for claiming to be a staff in Benin, is vying for the position of the chapel chairman, with support from the state chairman, who had mandated the current chairman to step down. The position of the secretary is keenly contested by Godwin Oghre, a Vanguard freelancer, without a media certificate and Timeyin Odudu, a writer who had his General Certificate Examination (GCE) written for him and without any media house, but goes to various computer centers to get stories typed there to send to community newspaper, while collecting money from personalities.
The media practitioners in Sapele can be likened to parliament of vultures, a market place where poor written stories are sold to the highest bidder. This is a state where assignments are a call to eat the national cake, with a governor ready to dole out millions after every press briefing. A very ready case that calls to mind was a press briefing held by the governor last year, where he intimated the over 300 'journalists' in attendance on the real cost spent on building the Asaba international airport. The sum of #500,000 was given to the Sapele chapel which was shared among five of them that came for the briefing. This is the profession practiced in the state.
As the Garba Shehu led executives' moves to sanitize the industry, there will be no better place to start from than Delta State, beginning with the Sapele chapel election slated to hold July 24, 2013, and until this is done, we can all bid goodbye to this noble profession in the state. Do I see a rejoinder coming from the Delta State council and other novel writers mentioned in this piece? I'm waiting with my ever internet ready laptop to unveil more bitter sweet truth.
These little things matter…
Fejiro Oliver, a Journalist writes from Uyo and can be reached on [email protected]