The blast of Right Said Fred’s hit song, ‘Stand up for the Champions’ set the premises of Ernest Ikoli Press Center on fire as jubilant members of the Consolidation Team took to the stage in a dancing spree. They were celebrating the landslide victory of their candidates in the rescheduled Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) election held on Wednesday, January 19, 2022.
It was an informal jig, a spontaneous response for a hard-won battle. Little wonder that even passersby and neighbours from within, hearing the Right Said Fred’s song, trooped to the gate of the NUJ Secretariat to watch the spectacle.
At some points within the premises, the elated journalists formed circles where some apparently ‘shy’ colleagues were pulled up to join in the frenzy, amidst chants of ‘champions’ as they danced. They celebrated like intoxicated folks.
Of course, they were intoxicated! Like the best-selling British author, Robert Green wrote in his book, The 48 laws of Power, “There is nothing more intoxicating than victory”.
The victory dance was the aftermath of a long and tortuous electoral contest, won by the ‘Consolidation Team’ of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). For five months, beginning from the original date of August, 5, 2021, the polls suffered six postponements.
Except for Mr. Lillibox Imikubi who ran for the position of Assistant Secretary, all other candidates to the election ran under slates – two major political camps, known as Consolidation Team and Liberation Team. Sadly, the eventual electioneering was to heat up the polity, resulting to the series of election postponements purportedly due to divergences from the two opposing camps.
But, thanks for the timely intervention of the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, who, with some veterans of the NUJ in the State, steered the camps to a round table and brokered a truce.
Election was finally fixed for Tuesday, January 18, 2022. The process was however stalled and voting cancelled when a ‘mistake’ was allegedly observed by an eagle-eyed Consolidation supporter during voting, in what appeared like padding of ballot papers.
The election was rescheduled for 11 am the next day, being Wednesday, January 19, 2022 following a yes vote secured by the Information Commissioner, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim through a voice vote.
The Commissioner, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim and officers from the National secretariat, assured the disappointed journalists that everything possible would be done, to have the polls concluded as scheduled.
He directed cameramen covering the exercise to be vigilant and direct their lenses on the ballot boxes, not leaving out suspicious movements from any quarter.
Then came Election Day! As early as 7am, the Press Center was already swarming with anxious journalists, obviously sworn to cast their votes and get it all over.
Voting was peaceful as delegates from all 17 chapels cast their votes. And, with their hearts in their mouths, the journalists awaiting the results.
As the results showed, the polls were keenly contested by over 3 delegates. Comrade Stanley Job Stanley of the Radio Rivers Chapel defeated his main contender and former vice chairman, Paul Bazia of the Rivers State Information Chapel.
Stanley clinched 150 votes against his opponent’s 140 votes to emerge as the Chairman of the council for the second term.
Okechukwu Maru of the State Information Chapel emerged the Vice Chairman with 145 votes against 140 votes scored by his opponent, Ibim Watson Asako of the Radio Rivers Chapel, while Ike Wigodo of The Tide Chapel was returned as the secretary for the second term having scored 169 votes to beat his main challenger, Obiandu Madume of the Rivers State Television (RSTV) Chapel to a distant second. Madume scored 119 votes.
The election also threw up three female officers including Mrs. Doris Morrison of RSTV Chapel as Treasurer, Mrs. Esther Obialor of the Treasure FM as Assistant Secretary and Mrs. Ominini Leslie-Wokoma of the Rivers State Information Chapel as Auditor.
Mrs. Morrison scored 152 votes to defeat her opponent and former Treasurer, Mrs. Ifeoma Ossai, who scored 132 votes, while Mrs. Obialor garnered the highest number of votes (191), beating her male rival, Lillybox Imikubi who scored 94 votes to a distant second.
Mrs. Ominini emerged the first female Auditor in the history of NUJ, Rivers State Council. She clinched 162 votes to defeat her male opponent, Tonye Orabere of The Tide Chapel who polled 125 votes.
The position of the Financial Secretary went to Fubara Miebaka having polled 149 votes to beat his only contender and former Financial Secretary, Martins Giadom who scored 134 votes. Both contenders are from the Radio Rivers Chapel.
The new executive officers who were sworn in Wednesday at about 6.30pm promised to abide by their oaths of office.
The newly elected Chairman, Stanley Job Stanley, in his acceptance speech, sued for the cooperation and support of every member of the Union and promised to run an all-inclusive and transparent government.
He also promised to use his second term to consolidate on the achievements recorded during his first term.
He commended the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim and elders of the Union led by former House of Representatives member, Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke, for restoring peace to the union.
Stanley also commended his supporters, especially members of his Consolidation Team, for working hard to ensure his re-election and election of other officers of the Union.
Earlier, the Vice President, NUJ Zone F, Opaka Dokubo had described the election as free, fair and credible.
He commended journalists in the state for their large turnout and peaceful conduct throughout the voting process in spite of seeming frustrations.
And the gyration continued amid ‘Stand up, for the Champions, for the Champions, stand up….’