Poll: NUJ Won’t Go The Way Of NLC – Garba | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Poll: NUJ Won’t Go The Way Of NLC – Garba

Posted: Jul 21, 2015 at 12:54 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Kano State Commissioner for Information, Muhammad Garba, is the immediate past President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).In this interview with YAQOUB POPOOLA, Garba speaks on the preparation for a successful NUJ National Delegates Conference before he was appointed commissioner. Excerpts…

What measures have you put in place to ensure a hitch-free NUJ election?

Garba Datti Muhammad

Garba Datti Muhammad

I think the most important thing is to abide by the provisions of the constitution of our union. That is most fundamental in any election. And for the fact that I am serving out my term as a term president of the union, that automatically would reduce tension. I also realised that virtually all the candidates who have indicated interest in the position of the president are members of the central working committee. We thought that the best thing we could do to ensure the success of the election is to put in place credible members of the credential committee. Another interest thing is that I have not queued behind any candidate; because all what we have been able to achieve in the union is with the input of all those aspiring for office today. They all assisted me in one way or the other. So, I found it difficult at this time to choose of anoint a candidate. Therefore, I am going to be neutral in the election. I will leave the contest very open, so that journalists can elect the leader of their choice. That is one major step we have taken to ensure a successful poll.


What happened during the last Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) election was a sad story. From what you have seen, so far, do you think NUJ election would be a departure from that?

I knew what transpired during the election of the NLC. And trying to ensure that NUJ election does not go along that line, I can assure you that the election would be transparent, credible, and acceptable. We are going to involve everybody. Candidates would have their delegates and after the voting, the results shall be counted and published. We are more determined. Since the inauguration of the credential committee, I have never at any time interfered with the process of the election. All I have been telling them is to abide by the electoral guidelines. But that is not to say that if we notice that they are going beyond their dictates, we will not caution them.


We learnt that some candidates have engaged in campaign of hate. What is the union doing to halt this?

When I realised that candidates were bent on resorting to hate campaigns, I had to address them. We invited them to the National Secretariat Conference Hall and we warned them to desist from such acts. We let them realise that as journalists we have been critical of politicians and, to that extent, we cannot allow ourselves to be messed up in the power game. If journalists have been criticising the Nigerian electoral body and others, it would be shameful if we don’t get it right this time round.


What about the controversy over the delegates list?

That is why I always harp on the provision of the constitution. The law says that all state councils must send in their delegates. The secretary of the council, ideally, is in charge of this duty. The secretary would liaise with chapels to draw up a list which would be sent to the national Secretariat. Ideally, it’s supposed to be a month before the election but it allows for few weeks before the poll. At times, we discover that the chairman and the secretary are not always in agreement on this matter. But we try to harmonise the list so that nobody would claim sole ownership of it. It is not unlikely that more than one list could emanate from a particular council, an indication that the two principal officers are supporting different candidates. For instance, if the total number of delegate from that council is 10, we harmonise by taking five delegates each from the two lists. We have been appealing to states to ensure that officers work harmoniously with one another. We cannot afford to mess ourselves up. I think journalists must set the pace for credible poll.


What would you consider as your greatest achievement as a two-term president of the union?

My greatest achievement is the acquisition and a successful completion of a National Secretariat. When we came onboard, I inherited a rented apartment at Ginbiya Street. Today, we can boast of a place we can call our own. We have 5.04 hectares of land situated at a choice area in Abuja. You know what it means to have this type of property located at Mabuchi in Abuja? I got the land and the building. My prayer is that journalists should elect a leader that would sustain this legacy. NUJ needs a visionary leader at this time. What I would like to see in the near future is a union that is buoyant and self- sufficient. I don’t want our union to be going cap in hand to any individual for money. I want the new leadership of the union to place more emphasis on training and retraining of members. If we utilise our land very well, we should be able to cater for the needs of the union.