When Lagos NUJ honoured 10 distinguished journalists
TEN journalists who have distinguished themselves cumulatively in the last two to three decades were last week celebrated by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council, when it held a party to commend them for being worthy ambassadors of the profession. The 10 journalists were Special Adviser on Media to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Femi Adesina, Secretary to the Lagos State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Mr. Waheed Odusile, Managing Director of The Sun newspapers, Mr. Eric Osagie, Managing Director of New Telegraph newspapers, Mrs. Funke Egbemode and Chief Press Secretary to Lagos State Governor, Mr. Habib Haruna.
Others included Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Lagos State, Mr. Fola Adeyemi, General Manager, Radio Lagos/Eko FM, Mrs. Funke Moore, General Manager, Lagos Television, Mr. Deji Balogun and General Manager, Lagos Traffic Radio, Mr. Yinka Adagun.
On hand to rejoice with the celebrants at the colourful ceremony held at the Combo Hall of the Lagos Television were members of NUJ, colleagues and family members and friends. Chaired by a veteran in the profession, Mr. Ray Ekpu, the event was a huge departure from the norm where journalists always celebrated others. But in a rare move, journalists had themselves at the centre of the celebration, with colleagues who have raised the stake of the profession.
Ekpu, in his remark, commended all the celebrants, and noted that they had done well over the years for getting higher appointments. For him, those who elevated them with new tasks could “see that we have quality in our midst” and urged them to remain steadfast and continue along the line of the good path that got them their assignments.
Quoting Ronald Rumsfeld, Ekpu asked the celebrants not to speak ill of their predecessors, not to think they were infallible and indispensable.
Chairman of Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Mr. Deji Elumoye said his council had always taken the pains of looking beyond the usually-pedestal template of honouring people, reason it decided to honour those who have excelled in the profession, especially with their recent elevation.
“It, therefore, gives us great pleasure to honour 10 distinguished professionals because, this time, we felt compelled to look beyond the obvious journalism criteria and search for exemplary conducts in these acclaimed media practitioners”.
According to him, the 10 were selected not only on their professional conducts, but also on the incredible tales surrounding their life stories, some of which will serve as inspiration to upcoming journalists.
Highlighting some of the qualities of some of the celebrants, which endeared thecCouncil to honour them, Elumoye said, “I must emphasise that they all have wonderful stories behind their successes. Some of you are familiar with the story of our own National President of the NUJ, Alhaji Waheed Odusile. This is a man, who can be likened to President Muhammadu Buhari, because their stories are similar.
“Odusile contested for the Deputy President of the NUJ three times. On those three occasions, in 2006, 2009 and 2012, he did not get it. But this year, he contested for the coveted position of NUJ President and he won by beating five other candidates. That is a story of resilience, determination and perseverance.
“It is also on record that the Managing Director of The Sun Newspaper, Mr. Eric Osagie, dumped a juicy government job to return to the newsroom. As a Special Adviser in the cabinet of Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Mr. Eric Osagie resigned, when he couldn’t cope with the politicking around him. He quit despite the notion that Nigerians don’t voluntarily leave government. Today, Osagie is the MD of The Sun newspapers.”
“In their respective ways, these 10 accomplished journalists have touched the lives of others, beyond their professional callings through hard work. For instance, if we decide to roll out the numerous assistance being rendered by the Secretary to Lagos State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, we may not leave here today. So also the S.A. Media to the President, Mr. Femi Adeshina, who made it a policy to attend all programmes of NUJ be it the Annual Media Games at the National Stadium in Surulere and the media chat we had for the gubernatorial candidates of the political parties ahead of the governorship polls in Lagos State in March 2015. The basis therefore, is to look beyond their area of competence, and seek the extra value for which they have been so recognized.”
According to him, it is not only heart-warming, but also emotional and charitably accurate to say that the honorees are not just individuals that have excelled in the course of their journalism career, but have also proven to be worthy ambassadors of journalism in other spheres of life.
He also said that in an era of salary-owing media employment, the honorees have ensured that their respective organizations are not found wanting, while they remain committed to the welfare of media practitioners under their leadership.
“Apart from ensuring that salaries are paid as at when due, they are always in the habit of encouraging professionalism through media trainings and acquisition of work tools for journalists. That is why we shall continue to recognize such people.
“For the media owners who are owing our members, we will not shy away from our responsibilities, we had in the past, picketed some organisations, but now, we are moving beyond picketing to full blown industrial action, coupled with legal redress.
“Prior to now, there used to be organisations behind journalists, but now, we are on our own. The real tangible hope we have is the courage of individuals, but they are taking the heat on their own.”
Taking a look at the practice of journalism profession, the NUJ Lagos Chair said that with the advent of the social media, conventional journalism has a big problem, which practitioners are not confronting. He wanted journalism to return to its founding principles, of giving a voice to the voiceless, and always put the people at the centre of the story in order to resist power.
He warned proprietors of media organizations owning to do the needful, stating it is the final warning from the body because immediately after the NUJ Media Games, which will start on Monday, September 7 and run through Saturday, September 12, the Lagos Council of NUJ will commence actions against defaulting media houses.
In his goodwill message at the event, former Special Adviser to former Governor Babatunde Fashola, Mr. Lateef Raji commended the Lagos NUj for hosting the Nite of honour for the ten journalists. Raji stated that the honourees are a good parade. He however implored them to know that appointments will and go but the reputation they built while before and while in office that stays, reason he said that they should take the admonition of Ekpu very seriously.
Raji also said that having Ekpu to chair the forum says a lot about the NUJ as an institution.
The immediate past Chairman of Lagos Council of the NUJ, Alhaji Wahab Oba, also thanked NUJ for organising the event. He wished all the celebrants well in their future endeavor, noting that the profession is very proud of them.
Speaking on behalf of the honorees, Mr. Femi Adesina, thanked NUJ for considering him and others worthy for the honour. He said that veterans like Rap Ekpu would not rest, as more of such programme will be held in the future.
Adesina thanked all who came to celebrate with them for finding time.
In a chat after the event, Elemuye said that there was a need to celebrate fellow journalists who have distinguished themselves, not just politicians and other professionals.
“Journalists celebrate others through our various platforms and just like people who have excelled in other profession, we decided to celebrate those who have excelled in our profession.
“We took it upon ourselves to start celebrating our members because we have our members in different spheres of life; some have risen to the pinnacle of their career. And we felt we need to single them out and celebrate them. Let people know that journalism in Nigeria can boast of who-is-who in society and that is why we are proud today to celebrate 10 distinguished journalists.”
He promised that the council planned to make the Nite of Honour a yearly event to celebrate journalists who have done well.