A faction of members of Photojournalists Association of Nigeria(PJAN) under the umbrella of Integrity Group on Thursday stormed the Nigerian Union of Journalists Secretariat to register their dissatisfaction over a decision made by the Chairman, NUJ, Lagos chapter, Dr Qasim Akinreti to disqualify aspirants in the election coming up on Saturday August 29, 2020.
In a statement made available to the public, and signed by its secretary, Segun Raphael stated that the genesis of the trouble began when the electoral committee chairman, Mr Kola Akinro, a former Photo Editor of Daily Times held a secret meeting with a part of electorate to instigate them on a NUJ clause that dwell on 50% attendance as prerequisite to all aspirants, a week into the campaign.
This action led to the group passing a vote of no confidence on the committee and a petition was duly sent to the NUJ council to emphasize fears on the election as umpires have taken a position with certain political gladiators.
In the Integrity Group are members who believe that enough is enough as the association has been left in oblivion for knowledgeable gap for a great time. They include photo editors of Thisday, Sun, Guardian, New Telegraph, PUNCH and many other press photographers in the online and government agencies
In a reply to the petition, the NUJ chairman, Dr Quasim Akinreti bought the option of the attendance as a mandate of the oath he sworn to uphold constitution of NUJ but down played the unethical conduct of the electoral members.
In the words of the secretary of the Integrity Group ” Our members bought nomination form after carefully going through the guidelines made available by the electoral committee.
“A week after the submission of forms when campaign had begun the two of the three member committee of the EC were seen at a meeting initiated by them to lure some photo editors and elders into voting to support a strange clause that has never been used in the history of the association.
“It was a direct attack on us to wrestle reigns of power from them. We have the numbers and ready to expose the rot of many years.
“The attendance register we don’t keep so where is the proof to show for all to see. We learnt the outgoing secretary brought some loose sheets before Akinreti but we were never shown the books when we probed further.
“We have said that we seek fair play and justice” he concluded
The statement further said Akinreti disqualified seven aspirants out of thirteen vying for offices thereby creating no opposition in the election.
This invariably brought dissent voices and a faction of the association whose all of its aspirants were disqualified decided to take their protest to the NUJ secretariat for a possible sanction on the membership of the electoral committee and reinstatement of the disqualified aspirants
Present at the meeting were the Secretary of NUJ, Lagos Chapter, Alfred Odifa, Assistant Secretary Phillip Nwosu, internal auditor, Ayodele Isaac, electoral committee members and over twenty five members of the association, which ended in a deadlock as agreement could not be reached between the groups and the executives.
An eye witness report also learnt that a mild drama occurred when the groups rejected both the transitional and interim arrangement which almost resulted in fisticuffs.
To further reach a consesus, Akinreti insisted on a political solution after all propositions failed.
He persuaded the factional group to have the empty slots of vice chairman and two ex officious as compensation. This was again turned down by the Integrity Group on the account that it has no signatory role to monitor activities within the executive. When Akinreti was called on the phone to cede a key role for the group, he said,
“My people take these slots and let’s move on. There is nothing impossible with God. The inauguration on Saturday is a jamboree and we are coming for affirmation of the rule of law for the union”.
As at the time of writing this report, Akinreti has not acceded to their pleas though promised to get back to the faction.
The election which is perceived by watchers as a complete departure in the history of the association features high calibre of members gunning for positions . PJAN created over thirty years ago is plagued with financial impropriety and leadership issues as membership growth dwindles annually.
The election was held on Saturday as manifesto that was supposed to hold on Thursday was cancelled due to the protest.