Suspend the Boycott Veteran Journalist Tells Kano NUJ Correspondents.

Opinion Article

I have been following with interest and mixed feelings the current developments in the relationship between Kano State Government and the State Correspondents ( Representatives) of National and Internal Media organizations.

The Correspondents who are members of a branch of the State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, named “the Correspondents Chapel” on Monday 10th June, 2024, announced that its members will boycott all activities related to the Kano State Government, effective immediately.

This was contained in a statement issued by Aminu Ahmed Garko , Chairman of the Chapel.

It stated that “the decision was taken in response to the persistent and unacceptable maltreatment of members of the chapel in the state by the government and its agents while discharging their primary assignments”.

“Despite our efforts to engage with the government and its officials to address these issues, we have seen no improvement in the situation,’’ the statement said.

‘’Members of the chapel continue to face harassment, intimidation, and even physical assault while performing their duties. ‘’

‘’It is particularly concerning that the government has prioritized non-professionals over trained journalists, making it a state policy to sideline those who are best equipped to handle the job.’’

‘’As a result, we regret to announce that we will no longer participate in press conferences, cover government events, or conduct interviews with state officials until we see a tangible commitment to press freedom and the safety of journalists. ‘’ the statement concluded.

Then on Tuesday 11th June, 2024, members of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) met with officials of Kano state government to resolve the disagreement between them.

Media reports indicated that despite the meeting, which was cordial, the Chapel had insisted that it would continue with its resolve to boycott all Kano State government activities.

The state government delegation, led by the Commissioner for Information, Baba Halilu Dantiye, was at the NUJ Press Centre, to meet with the leaders and members of the Chapel.

Dantiye expressed government’s commitment to resolve the impasse between the two sides which led to the chapel declaring a boycott of all government’s activities.

He said Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf’s administration acknowledged the importance of a free and independent press in a democratic society and assured the journalists of the governor’s willingness to address their concerns.

According to Dantiye, the governor had expressed concerns over the development and directed him to immediately meet with the members of the chapel for an amicable resolution of the matter.

“I want to first of all convey the goodwill of the governor, who also expressed readiness for amicable resolution of the matter. As a member of the State Executive Council and a Commissioner for Information, I have a stake to meet you on behalf of the government.

“After the deliberation, I assure you that I will write a comprehensive report and recommendations to the governor.

“This will culminate into a bigger meeting, hopefully with His Excellency to hear directly from you and take a stance.

“I am very happy about how you received me. The meeting was indeed fruitful and by God’s grace, we would reach the promised land,”

The Correspondent Chapel leadership, led by its chairman, Aminu Ahmed Garko, appreciated the government’s gesture and reiterated their commitment to professional and factual reporting.

Garko expressed happiness over the state government willingness to address the concerns of the members of the Chapel.

He said that the crucial meeting on Tuesday evening is expected to pave the way for another round of meetings in the next couple of days in a steady march to resolve the issue at stake.

He however insisted that the Chapel members will not participate in all government affairs concerning the executive, legislative and the judiciary. He said they will also not cover the Emirate and the 44 local government areas of the state.

I have carefully analysed the unfortunate situation and commend the two sides for the maturity and integrity shown and exhibited to find an amicable solution to the misunderstanding that is not in anyway a logjam.

The outcome of Tuesday’s meeting signalled that all hope is not lost and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

As I commend the efforts and concern of the Kano State Commissioner of Information, Baba Halilu Dantiye, and the commitment of the leadership of the Correspondents’ Chapel under Aminu Ahmed Garko in promoting professionalism and defending the interest and welfare of its members, I appeal for a truce.

I equally appeal to the Correspondents’ Chapel to suspend the boycott of coverage of all Kano State government activities and the latest addition that includes the Legislature, the Judiciary, the Emirate Council and all the 44 Local Government Area Councils.

Since the NUJ is a trade union, the Chapel has presented its case and the commissioner has assured that government will look into the issues with a view to resolving them.

From the other angle of the NUJ as a professional body, it is part of the professional ethics and above all a Constitutional duty for the journalist keep the public informed about government activities. There shouldn’t be an “Information Lockdown” on the public.

Section 22 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that “the Press …. shall at all times be responsible for the accountability of the government to the public”. This is a burden placed on the media and shall be discharged at all times.

Even the Nigeria Labour Congress has considered public interest and suspended its industrial strike on minimum wage while negotiation continues.

Inview of the foregoing as a Veteran Journalist, a former State Chairman (1981 to 1983) former National Vice President (1994 to 1997) of the NUJ, a Fellow of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and a former Press Secretary to a former Deputy Governor (Engineer Magaji Abdullahi) who experienced the other side of government-media relationship, I am appealing to the Kano State Correspondents Chapel of the NUJ to suspend and eventually call off the boycott of all activities of the Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary, the Emirate Council and the 44 Local Government Area Councils in Kano State.

Signed 12/6/2024.
Abdulkadir Ahmed, Ibrahim, FNGE.

Previous Post
Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *