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NUJ Confers on Gov Zulum 'NUJ 2019 Most Promising First Term Governor In Nigeria' Award ..

Tasks Govt on Good Governance, Service Delivery, Accountability
By Sadiq Abubakar, The Nigerian Voice, Maiduguri

The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Borno State Council has in recognition of the immense support and facilitation to media formations and execution of developmental projects across the 27 LGCs of the state within a short period of 100 days of his first tenure that are incomparable to 4 years of some state Governors has with the approval of the national headquarters of the NUJ conferred on Borno State Governror, Professor Babagana Unara Zulum with the prestigeous award of NUJ 2019 Most Promising First Term Governor in Nigeria".

The award was presented by the Borno State Council NUJ Chairman, Malam Bulama Talba on behalf of the Congress and exco to the Governror during a courtesy visit by the newly elected executive council of the state NUJ Council led by the Chairman, Bulama Talba after recitation of his biography as the NUJ tradition requires at the Government House Council Chamber Maiduguri today, Tuesday.

The State Chairman of the NUJ added that NUJ members have it on record that as Commissioner, the governor had intervened in renovation of NUJ press center conference hall and mosque as well as constructed an editing studio for NTA, Maiduguri.

"We are also aware that you recently directed a major construction intervention at the Peace FM in Maiduguri. We are also aware of the presentation of buses to the correspondents chapel and the press crew.

"We are equally aware of the individual support accorded to some of our colleagues in the area of transportation, which made them more able to do their jobs with greater efficiency. We are aware of different ways you supported the media in the state", Talba said

The NUJ State Chairman further appreciated the state government's gesture two weeks ago , noting that, "while you were in the United States, one of our resident journalists, a former chairman of the correspondents chapel, working with Premium Times, was kidnapped along Kaduna to Jos."

" Through the facilitation of our colleagues working as your media aides, we held an emergency meeting with the Deputy Governor and he immediately released to us, the sum of three million naira cash. The following day we dispatched a journalist to Jos with the money. The ransom was paid and our colleague regained his freedom that very day.

"Your Excellency, the deputy governor could not have intervened if he didn't know and appreciate the depth of your concern for the welfare of journalists in Borno State. We are grateful to you. We are grateful to the deputy governor and to all our colleagues, working with you.

"We thank you for the appointment of our colleagues in the NUJ who diligently serve you in different capacities", Bulama said.

Talba said beyond what the governor has done for journalists in Borno State, "we are here to recognize and celebrate the good things you have done for Borno as rector, as Commissioner and the unimaginable things you are doing as Governor. "

"Sir , normally, the NUJ in Borno State does not celebrate the achievements of Governors in less than one year of their tenure. Journalists are critical people. Before we give out awards, we look at things critically.

"Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, we have asked our members who are the ones on ground to assess your performance in the first quarter of your administration. We compared your performance with those of all Governors serving their first term in office.

"To our amazement, Your Excellency, we discovered without the slightest doubt, that we could only compare your achievements with those of some Governors in their second term.

"Your achievements in the first quarter were uncommonly amazing to us. Everyone may remember that you delivered 120 projects in 100 days. But what we will like to remind people is that some of these individual projects include the construction of entirely new schools, each of them, counted as one project. The 120 projects include an ongoing estate of 300 houses counted as one project", the chairman said.

" Your Excellency, the best way to be a friend of journalists is to continue to deliver more and more projects. When you perform very well, the journalists will naturally favour you in their reporting. Journalists mainly report what pubic office holders do rightly or wrongly.

"In the case of Borno State, the verdict of journalists is : His Excellency, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, mni, FNSE, is winner of the NUJ's 2019 award as Most Promising First Term Governor in Nigeria", Talba said.

"Sir , before we leave today, we shall, with your permission present our award to you and it will be the first time we are celebrating the performance of any Governor in less than one year of service.

"Before we come to the award, I will like to add that,the NUJ intends to play vital role to promote your activities and to also create platforms through which we will hold public office holders accountable.

"The NUJ proposes that starting next year, 2020, we will host quarterly press briefings. We propose to host the first at the end of December and subsequent ones at the end of April, August and December of every year.

"At the NUJ secretariat here in Maiduguri, we will invite commissioners and heads of government agencies to come to the press center and brief journalists on activities of their ministries and agencies. We will expect them to support whatever they say with video images.

"During these briefings, we will invite some critical stakeholders and opinion molders from the academia, civil society organizations, members of traditional institution, and student unions to join these briefings", Talba added.

The NUJ Chairman said, "Your Excellency, to make these press briefings possible, we will kindly require government intervention at the NUJ press center.

He also solicited for support from the state government to improve on the NUJ facilities and amenities at the NUJ Press Center Maiduguri saying,"We will need support in completing some ongoing works in terms of equipping the press center and also in helping us to create means through which the NUJ can sustain itself with construction of lock up shops to generate revenue without coming to overstretch the government.

"The NUJ secretariat is the symbol of journalists in Borno State. The press briefings we propose are also important because oftentimes, the absence of developmental information from government is what leaves room for negative assumptions and speculations.

"Beside our proposal for quarterly press briefing, the NUJ shall, with your kind permission, send you quarterly public opinion reports to bring to your kind attention, key areas your administration may need to improve in terms of focus, priorities and the diversity of the state.

"We believe that with the evidence of your performance, we can support you without going public all the time unless when it becomes necessary. Let me at this point express the Union’s immense gratitude once again and to congratulate Your Excellency for emerging the NUJ's most promising first term Governor in Nigeria", the chairman added

This visit, Your Excellency, is necessitated by a standing tradition of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ in Borno State. We usually come together as a body to visit the Governor whenever we have new executives at the state council. We held elections few months ago and new leaders were elected.

"As you may wish to note, the state council of the NUJ is the mother union to which every journalist working in Borno State has allegiance. The NUJ has about two hundred journalists working in more than 50 local, national and international media organizations.

We have members representing television and radio stations, newspapers, magazines and online news platforms, the state ministry of information, the federal ministry of information, the department of mass communication in UNIMAID and the national orientation agency.

"The NUJ has seven chapels like the correspondents chapel which has all national newspapers, TV and radio stations and we have chapels in home based stations like the NTA, the BRTV, Peace FM, Kanem Radio and ministries of information at the state and federal levels.

"All these branches that make up the NUJ in Borno State are all represented here and with one strong voice, we came to collectively register our solidarity, our support and affirm our trust and confidence in your administration.

Your Excellency, we are here to convey our depth of gratitude.

According to the Chairman, NUJ members have since his days as Rector of Ramat Polytechnic and as Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Re-settlement observed that he has proved to be a selfless and genuine friend of journalists in Borno State.