Thursday, 14 August 2014

Patrick Albert: Manifesting God’s will in NUJ BY OTOBONG NSEKPONG

August 1st 2013 will remain green in the mind of so many for various reasons. To Journalists in AkwaIbom State, it will remain memorable following the victory of the Rebirth Team at the triennial delegates’ conference/State Elections of the NUJ.  

That uncommon victory of August 1, 2013 brought to the number one seat the champion of the Rebirth Team, Elder Patrick Albert. As a member of the team that toured the 11 Chapels with the promise of fresh air, I recall the tremendous support, endorsement and prayers which resulted in the overwhelming victory for Elder Patrick Albert.

What did the Rebirth Team promise Journalists? Apart from the promise of the return of the good old days when NUJ Press Centre was a rallying point for members and members of other professional bodies, it also promised a facelift of facilities at the Center.

If the performance and features of successes of Elder Albert in the last one year were to be written as a book, it would have been voluminous considering the day to day activities of the union soon after he assumed leadership. 

A peep into the pages will tell the story of fulfilled promise to journalists in every area. Proving doubting Thomases wrong, Elder Albert started with the expansion of the leadership scope of the union by introducing the appointment of personal aides to the chairman as well as setting up some critical committees to help the State Working Committee (SWC) of the Union in the running of the council. He encourages the younger generation of journalists by entrusting them with responsibilities including high profile appointment in government.

The new leadership has also increased the population of AkwaIbom delegates at any national congress of the Union following the recognition of the Federal information Chapel and conferring of a chapel status on Newsfront Newspapers.

 NUJ, AkwaIbom State council has been heard and seen in the last 365 days more than it has been heard since the state was created. Unlike in the past where the union owns the mass media yet remain unsung. Today, the story has changed. NUJ stories are considered in the headlines and given prominence in the papers.

For instance, when on January 19 this year, the Union desired to thank God in a special thanksgiving, the chairman decided to take journalists out of Uyo capital city to Rapture Trust Ministries International in far awayUkanafun Local Government Area. At the January Congress of the union, some members of the union had criticized the choice of Ukanafun for the thanksgiving service but after the event, journalists unanimously came to the conclusion that it was indeed a refreshing experience and an inspired decision by the chairman.

That January 19, 2014 decision of SWC was well applauded by members of the larger society. Hon Aniekan Akpan, member representing Ukanafun in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and his Abak State Constituency counterpart, Elder Friday Iwok graced the thanksgiving service with an outpour of encomiums on the state chairman.

For one, the choice of Ukanafun opened the eyes of city dwellers to the uncommon transformation going on in the rural communities courtesy of Chief GodswillAkpabio. Hitherto, it was a bitter experience travelling to that part of the State as there were no motorable roads.  Six months after, the NUJ Press Centre has not only been transformed with facility upgrade but it has turned into an international complex courtesy of that Ukanafun spiritual encounter.

Come with me to the GodswillAkpabio International Press Centre located along Information Drive off IBB Avenue Uyo. The centre before now was surrounded by a thick bush with threatening tall Palm Trees usually cultivated by villagers living around there. The only one-storey building where the office of the chairman is accommodated and Congresses held was like an old abandoned building. The paint on the building had faded while sections that were not painted became an eyesore. Inside the chairman’s office, we had old furniture akin to the Abrahamic age - old Television and mal-functional toilet facilities. 

In the Congress Hall, we had a broken table used by the union where the chairman sits and presides at monthly Congress. The table, we were told, was bought by the Daniel Ekanem led SWC more than 14 years ago. The plastic chairs for members were also in sorry states as some had lost one leg, aged or broken that they become traps for many unsuspecting members to fall as soon as they sit on.

Today the story has changed. Elder Patrick Albert has matched words with action. The NUJ Press Centre is not only wearing a new look but has also become a beehive of activities. The perimeter fence to demarcate our land is 95 percent completed with a modern gate house, the existing building has been given a facelift. The office of the chairman has been made more attractive as a result of the uncommon transformation that has taken place. It has hosted the Governor, Deputy Governor, Speaker of AKHA and Members, Commissioners and chairmen of Councils, etc.

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was watched live at the NUJ Viewing Centre where two giant plasma TV and solid chairs and tables have been provided for viewers. In the Congress Hall, the more than a decade old table has given way to a modern conference table with designer’s chairs with adorning colours provided for members as well as beautiful curtains for the wall.

Going upstairs, where we have the chairman’s office, there is a special office for the council secretary which hitherto was not there, while another general office have also been created for members of the SWC all of which have been tastefully furnished. The Union which before Elder Patrick Albert’s era was managing a-6KVA Generator , now has 60KVA and 150KVA Mikano Generating Plants.

What more can one say about an administration that has been active from the very first day after inauguration? Is it in the building of a website for the union or in the recruitment of competent and experienced hands to drive the union vehicles or is it in the fact that members now have social events like  Valentine’s Day and birthday parties? It is more than these things listed. The union is now stronger as a body of professionals who stand by each other in happy and trying moments.

With the official flag off of the building of an ultra- modern press centre described by many as massive, the next one year will witness emergence of world class structures at the centre to house the proposed club house, 25 roomsGuest House and the NUJ media museum. Soon to be completed and commissioned are the Mini Club House, ICT Resource Centre, etc.

Apart from the physical development at the center, Elder Patrick Albert has remained a strong voice in the campaign against certain vices in the society such as violence and nudity by our youths.

At this point special thanks must be accredited to first and foremost members of the Rebirth Team led by Barr Daniel Ekanem for seeing the capacity in Elder Patrick Albert to lead a rejuvenated NUJ. Secondly members of the union across chapels for supporting Elder Albert to victory and by standing by him in the task of building a befitting legacy for posterity and lastly and most especially the Almighty God for giving the chairman the wisdom of Solomon in piloting the affairs of the union. In deed the prayers of the veteran journalists for Elder Patrick Albert during campaign was heard and answered by God. To God be the glory.

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