Ogun NUJ: Who bells the cat?

Yesterday, I attended a public lecture organized by the  League of Veteran Journalists to mark the 160th year of journalism in Nigeria. Incidentally, journalism started in Abeokuta 160 years ago.
The event held at the main auditorium of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library Abeokuta. I had the honour of driving the Guest Lecturer, former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, to the venue.
What should have been a very happy day for me, driving Chief Osoba, was rather a sad day for me. As I left the event in the middle of the programme, the do-or-die politics that have engulfed the Ogun State Chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), occupied my mind and made me sad. I asked myself, are the veteran journalists unaware of the shameful turn of events in the NUJ where friends no longer see eye-to-eye because of desperate contest for union offices? 
I even learnt that both factions are either claiming my support or alleging that I am supporting one group against the other. I laughed wryly, and shook my heads that shook my head that some people don’t really know me. 
I have different ways of bonding with my colleagues, senior or junior.  One evening after the inauguration of Prince Dapo Abiodun as Governor of Ogun State, I drove to Iwe Iroyin Press Centre to, in appreciation, entertain colleagues to drinks and banters, as I have done in the past. 
Surprisingly, it turned out that the evening was for presentation of Manifesto by aspirants for the NUJ offices. Before I could beat a quick retreat, a female colleague working at Rockcity FM and supporting Remi Olugbenro of Paramount FM said they had information that I was supporting Amosu. Remi and Amosu were/are contesting for the coveted seat of Chapter Chairman. But a friend, who knew me very well had told them before my coming that it was not possible. That he knew I won’t take sides. And that he was sure I won’t support any faction. I told the female colleague that I don’t even know who Amosu was, and that’s the truth. Of course, if I was supporting Remi, this he allegations would not have been leveled. I practically rushed out of the Press Centre.
Since then, things have gone from bad to worse with Ogun NUJ with the situation appearing as intractable. Over the weekend, another colleague saw me and said I was supporting Remmy Olugbenro (before they think its Remmy Ksr Hazzan!). I took time to explain why that can’t be possible. I mentioned my very close friends and colleagues on both sides and wonder how I can support any of the sides in anyway, whatsoever. I must say that I appreciate all the actors on both sides who are very close to me. Why? None of them has raised the issue of NUJ elections with me let alone asking for my support.
It has been my long established principled not to interfere in such elections. My student union comrades know me. I am not talking about professional students. I mean genuine activists; I have heard them telling themselves before that go and meet Oladunjoye to support your programme after you have been elected, but he will not support your election. 
As a Council Chairman in 2008, two Comrades were contesting for NULGE (National Union of Local Government Employees) of my LG.  Comrade Isaac Olabode (aka Ododo) and Comrade Osijo Patrick, they are both on this my timeline. Despite pressures and overtures, I refused to support any of them openly or secretly. There is no way you can support a group against another at such elections and both groups will not know. And I don’t belong to the crass class that will pretend to support the two equally. 
At the end, Com. Olabode won. After his tenure, Comrade Osijo became NULGE Chairman of Ijebu East LG. Till tomorrow Com. Osijo still come to Ijebu Itele to celebrate Ileya festival with me. And that’s me.
Recently, I openly opposed some elements that tried to drag the name of Prince Dapo Abiodun into the election of the National Youth Council of Nigeria. I said openly that the Governor will never intervene in such election. I was thoroughly abused by the side that lost woefully. In fact they wrote epistles and copied me. They said they have lost their respect for me. But it eventually dawned on them painfully that the Governor will not be dragged into such issues. I am sure they haven’t forgiven me, but I don’t give a hoot.
But who will bell the sick cat of NUJ? Court? I doubt. NUJ National, I suspect officers at that level have taken sides. Where do we go from here? In the emerging narratives both sides are equally right and wrong! Who will save our union?
I remember what happened to NUJ Lagos over electoral issues. I am not sure if the Lagos Chapter ever got back it’s renowned vibrancy. Must NUJ Ogun be allowed to go that way?
As the veterans gathered yesterday discussing professionalism, ethics and press freedoms, how far can we go with a divided, factionalised and fractured Union?
This challenge, I put squarely in the court of the League of Veteran Journalists. 
Tunde Oladunjoye Oladunjoyelo@gmail.com08055655125December 3, 2019.

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