By Yemi Adeleye
Lagos -Mr Adeleye Ajayi, a Chairmanship candidate, Lagos State Council, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), has pleaded with the management of The Nation Newspapers to recall all journalists sacked in the organisation.
Ajayi, a Deputy Editor-in-Chief (DEIC) with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), made the plea when his campaign train visited the Newspapers in Lagos.
He said that though, everybody understood the challenges facing media houses in the country, the affected journalists should be reconsidered and given back their jobs.
NAN reports that the Director-General, Adeleye Ajayi Campaign Group, Mrs Nike Sodipo, had earlier led her team on tour to the Daar Communications Ltd., owner of Ray Power FM, Faaji FM and African Independent Television (AIT) in Lagos, Sun Newspapers, Lagos Television, Radio Lagos/Eko FM and Traffic Radio.
“In view of the stimulus package being expected from the Federal Government, our colleagues affected by the latest downsizing in the Nation Newspapers should be reconsidered.
“What are you going to do about them? There should be light at the end of the tunnel for them,” Ajayi said.
Reeling-out his programmes and agenda, he said that efforts would be made to ensure prudent management of the council’s resources and ensure quarterly audit of NUJ accounts for transparency.
He promised to run the union with all integrity and accountability so as to bring the Lagos NUJ back on track.
“This will be possible because everybody will be involved and will be carried along to put in their best.
“I believe in collective responsibility; and I will also put in my best in ensuring judicious use of the council’s funds.
“I will return the union back to the track of progress, unity, accountability, periodic auditing of accounts, training and retraining, adequate welfare of members, among others.
“I have zero tolerance for corruption. There will be no room for mismanagement of funds.
“Accounts will be sent to you all every three months online. There will be changes in Lagos NUJ, if I emerge as the state chairman,” Ajayi said.
He promised that efforts would be made to boost revenue of the council through massive investment drive in agric-business, transportation, among others, to better lot of members.
Ajayi listed some of the various training programmes within and outside the country that he facilitated for members of the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN) as the association’s former president between 2009 and 2011.
He, however, promised to revive the NUJ Media Games, NUJ Cooperative Society, and input capacity building into the budget and welfare scheme for members on regular basis.
The chairmanship candidate pleaded with the Newspapers publishers and proprietors of media organisations to ensure regular payment of salary to their workers and ensure regular remittance of their pensions.
Ajayi said that journalists must have a comfortable and a healthy life, especially after retirement.
“There should be life insurance, health insurance, as well as an insurance portfolio that can take care of any journalist who loses his or her job, at least for a minimum period of six months.
“The union will partner with the Bank of Industry and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) for members to acquire the entrepreneurial skills,” he said.
On Mowe/Ofada Pen Jewel Estate project, Ajayi said that he would adopt “a political solution’’ to refund money to every subscriber of the housing project.
Responding, Mr Adeniyi Adesina, Editor, the Nation, wished Ajayi well in his aspiration and agenda for the union if he emerged the winner.
Adesina urged the candidate to take the issues of insurance for journalists serious and the abortive Pen Jewel Estate.
He noted that some subscribers like himself had expressed doubt about the project right from the outset, urging Ajayi to ensure that he resolved the naughty issue, if he emerged as chairman.
“We did insurance one time, but it had been stopped. If you can revive it, it is good; let the union guarantee it and let people key into it.
“When people lose their jobs suddenly, they will not go empty handed; there will be something to bridge the gap between the time they lose their job and time to get another one.
Speaking on the Federal Government’s planned stimulus for media houses, the Editor said that since the government had made the move, the union should see it through to keep the industry running.
On the fate of sacked journalists, Adesina said: “The issue here is that we find ourselves in a systemic situation that some people were laid off. It is uncontrollable.
“When we put them on leave first, they were being paid 20 per cent of their salary for the three months.
“At the end of the day, we tried to bring back few people, but we could not. They have to go.”
According to him, the company’s rule says if anyone leaves the company voluntarily or involuntarily, the company has, within three months, to pay them their entitlements.
“In this case, the company had even decided to, within the first month, pay their entitlements, but there are some whose issues we have to settle.
“Some of our people affected took soft loans, some took loans from the Cooperatives Society, some placed advertisement they have not paid for, and some took loans from the Sterling Bank.
“So, they need to sort out these so that they can be paid,’’ he said.
Adesina said that the affected staff who had no issue would be paid before the end of September.
Speaking, Mr Debo Oshundun, the Chairman, Lagos State chapter, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), described Ajayi as a good product and a man of few words.
Oshundun, calling for support for Ajayi, said that the chairmanship candidate remained a man of accountability and an achiever who would not be found wanting while providing leadership for the union.
NAN reports that on the campaign train were some members of the outgoing Lagos NUJ Executive, seeking reelection.
They included Alfred Odifa (Secretary); Iyabo Ogunjuyigbe (Treasurer), and Innocent Anaba (Financial Secretary). (NAN)