By NBF News

As the debate over the expectations for Prof. Attahiru Jega as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) continues to dominate the political landscape, former Governor of Abia State Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has said Nigerians would be expecting too much from Jega except he is given free hands to operate.

Dr. Kalu stated this when he hosted the President and members of the National Executive Committee of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), in Abuja, adding that Prof. Jega should be allowed to nominate national commissioners of INEC from amongst the Nigeria Bar Association, (NBA), NUJ, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC ) and other civil society organisations in line with the report of the Justice Uwais Electoral Reforms Panel and the wishes of Nigerians to have non card-carrying members of political parties as electoral umpires in the country.

Dr. Kalu who was the Presidential candidate of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), in the 2007 elections further said the time had come for Nigerians to stand up to the challenge by not allowing the barely two or three million card carrying members of political parties to continue to determine the political future and direction of the country.

According to him 'It is not proper for the majority of Nigerians to continue to sit and watch the less than three million card-carrying members of registered political parties determine the political future of the country. Every vote cast should be made to count.'

He, therefore, challenged the media to stand up and fight against injustice, and corruption, especially electoral fraud, saying only a clean system was required for the country. Commenting on the issue raised by the NUJ concerning insurance for journalists and improved conditions of service, Dr. Kalu said while he did not interfere with the operations of the day to day running of The Sun Publishing Limited, he would, however, discuss the matter with management of the company to buy into the issues which, he said, were germane.

Earlier in his remarks, National President of the NUJ, Mallam Muhammed Garba said that the Union deemed it proper to meet and discuss with Dr. Kalu, who is the publisher of The Sun Newspapers being one of the largest employers of journalists in the country on matters bordering on welfare of journalists.

Mallam Garba further said that the Union was working to ensure that effective insurance cover for journalists was put in place for every working journalist just as he equally said that the Union was concerned about the welfare and conditions of service for media workers in the country, saying that there was the urgent need for a critical review to enable practitioners meet up with other challenges.

The NUJ President and National Secretary, Mr. Shuaibu Leman, later presented Dr. Kalu with a birthday card to commemorate his 50th birthday.