Jim Pressman, Freelance, Abuja
National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Garba Mohmmed has suggested that there should be no No-Go areas in the proposed National Dialogue, if we are really serious about addressing all the nagging issues on the minds of Nigerians, regarding Project Nigeria.
Mallam Mohammed who is also President of the professional journalists’ association both at the West African sub-regional ((WAJA) and continental levels (FAJ), spoke at one of his regular state of the nation interactive sessions with journalists in Abuja Wednesday October 3rd, declaring that given the repeated calls in the recent past for open, national discussion on our nation and the way itis being run, the NUJ welcomes the creation of the 13-man Committee to fine tune modalities for the organization of a National Dialogue. He however wondered aloud why Media, despite their practitioners’ wide interaction with all levels of the communities and the crucial role it is bound to play in the programme, were thus far not yet represented in the Committee.
The NUJ President said he does not believe in guided discussion, arguing that such a process suppresses popular opinion, since he believes that even though he believes that having tolerated each other for 53 years, Nigerians should all remain together as one, but even those who say the country should be divided ought to be allowed to explain why and how.
He said he trusts that members of the Committee and those who will go to the National Parley, are responsible persons and at any rate whatever conclusions and recommendations are reached at the Dialogue will have to first be submitted to our constitutional representatives at the National Assembly for ratification. That, he added, is all the more reason why the Dialogue needs constitutional backing and has to be handled with care, to avoid any conflicts between our national legislators’ and the conferees’ terms of reference.
Above all, Nigeria’s topmost journalist urged, the outcome, recommendations and conclusions of the National Dialogue must be diligently implemented, to bring lasting solutions to these many nagging problems of Nigeria which have hampered development and are threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria. He enjoined Nigeria journalists to instigate a broad-based support for national unity and that Media in this trying period of our national history must facilitate and be neutral in our coverage of, the Dialogue.
The National President, who said he would have addressed the journalists in a pre-Independence Anniversary session which could not hold, also treated other issues in the state of the nation interactive session, empathizing with the many sentiments expressed on the progress so far made and the challenges including the raging security ones. Mallam Mohammed expressed concern that, 53 years post-independence, Nigerians still struggle with the most basics of daily existence, such that the President was just that day commissioning the Geregu Power Project in Kogi state.
He underscored the importance of Power and security of lives and property, urging government to be more proactive about those issues. He recalled the Umuahia case of kidnapping involving journalists, noting that kidnapping seems to have become more lucrative and therefore attractive to the perpetrators.
On the three-month-old, ASUU nation-wide strike, the NUJ boss expressed concern that issue remained unresolved, even as NASU and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) were on the verge of joining the fray, against the backdrop of poor or often non-existent Library facilities where the idle students, victims of the long strike could do catching up reading, which has further compounded the already alarming fall in the standard of education.
He therefore urged the Federal Government and ASUU to hasten the resolution of the strike and avoid a now imminent situation our public, tertiary institutions’ students losing one whole academic session, should the strike go on for much longer.
Jim Pressman, Freelance, Abuja