Contrary to the one-sided story sponsored in some online medium by Intergrity Group, alleging that the Chairman Lagos Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ),
Dr. Quasim Akinreti handpicked some candidates to vie for elective offices in the forthcoming Photojournalist Association of Nigeria(PJAN) election slated for Saturday 29th of August 2020 is not true.
According to Concerned PJAN Members(CPM), it an avenue to gain sympathy, cheap popularity, distort the truth and mislead the general public against Akinreti and the NUJ Council Secretary, Mr. Alfred Odifa.
The group also noted that it is surprising that people who benefited from the Noble association are now throwing stones.
Further findings by our correspondent revealed that over the years, the people tagging themselves as Integrity Group had abandoned the association, they never came to meetings, paid their dues nor contribute to the growth of the association.
The CPM added that the so-called Integrity Group formed another association named Visual Journalists Forum, copied numbers from original WhatsApp platform of PJAN to form an association.
It was gathered that the association was allegedly presented to Lagos NUJ but it was rejected, “They tried all they could to collapse PJAN but steadfast members held on to the tenets of the association for years,” one of the CPM said
Having failed in that regard, when they realised that the election was close, the so-called Integrity Group members hurriedly paid their outstanding dues two weeks to the election in order to be eligible to contest, forgetting that over the years, they had not been attending the association’s meeting Meanwhile, attendance is one of the criterion in considering eligibility based on the NUJ constitution.
Another member of the CPM noted that in the spirit of togethness, the Integrity Group benefited largely from the last conference organised by PJAN in December 2019. Yet, they are not happy.
However, at the association’s general meeting held on January 18th, 2020, the following members were appointed as Electoral committee members:
Mr. Kola Akinro as Chairman;
Mr. Kehinde Shanola as Secretary and Mr. Adegbola Ashamu, Member.
The committee stood their ground that NUJ constitution would be used for the election, which they all aware of.
Investigations also revealed that the Integrity Group had been mounting pressure on Akinreti to compromise the electoral constitution.
In order to resolve the issues amicably, initially when the aggrieved members asked Akinreti to intervene, he urged them to sheath their swords and work for the betterment of the association. He asked them to go and iron things out first before he could intervene in the crisis.
At a point, Akinreti told the Integrity Group that he would not bend the rules and regulations for posterity sake.
Hence, members were disqualified based on the Constitution of NUJ which says that an aspirant must be a financially commited member and must attend the Congress of the association(PJAN) for at least 50% of the 36 Congresses held for the last three (3) years. The aggrieved members subsequently accused the Committee of bias, saying they shouldn’t have used the NUJ Constitution as basis for disqualification of candidates. Rather, they should have made it open for everyone to contest.
After the screening, some members were disqualified, of which one of the disqualified aspirants accepted the decision of the Electoral Committee in good faith for peace to reign.
The Integrity Group ran to the NUJ leaders to report the Committee, and the two (2) leaders of the union (NUJ) called both parties involved to a meeting together with Electoral Committee members to find a lasting solution on Thursday August 22nd at about 7:15pm.
From that meeting, both parties went through the register and discovered that members of the Intergrity Group are not qualified because of their poor attendance, not knowing they still had a hidden agenda.
In a release by CPM sent to our correspondent, it reads in part,
“It took the timely efforts of the NUJ chairman, Lagos State Council, Akinreti to calm the nerves of the Intergrity Group who actually came to forment trouble against the aspirants, Electoral Commiittee members and PJAN members who originally came to witness the manifesto day(which eventually couldn’t hold) yesterday( Thursday) at the NUJ Secretariat at Iyalla, Ikeja, Lagos.
” In the same vien, they forced Akinreti to attend a meeting with all the aggrieved members where he expressly told them that he will not bend the rules and insisted on using the constitution to conduct the election. “However, he made it known that the aggrieved members of the Integrity Group should bring one person to fill up the vacant Vice – Chairmanship position ( because the two aspirants were disqualified)
“Also, he asked them to bring two persons to serve as Ex-officio members so that it will not be a case of the winner takes all.”
The statement further stated that the Integrity Group walked out on Akinreti and the elders on seat, threatening to disrupt the election on Saturday.
Another member of the Concerned PJAN group said, ” It is surprising to note that the same set of people have now resolved to character assassination, maligning the NUJ Chairman, Dr. Quasim Akinreti who they initially wanted to compromise the electoral process.
We the CPM hereby state that we are disappointed in their actions
” Let it be known that for resulting to ridiculous media mudslinging of our revered Mr. Akinreti/ Mr. Odita, give them days to tender unreserved apology to the duo.”