NUJ mulls umbrella body for journalists covering maritime industry in Nigeria

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Worried by the fractionalization of the beat association in the maritime industry, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council has said that plan is in the offing to put up an umbrella body to regulate the activities of journalists covering the sector.

The Chairman, NUJ, Lagos State Council, Mr. Adeleye Ajayi disclosed this in his comments during a grand reception held in his honour by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) at the Rockview Hotels, Apapa in Lagos.

Ajayi who is a former President of MARAN, described MARAN as a very big and united family even as he further averred that the association was intact.

According to him, “The only problem is that so many factions are coming from maritime journalism sector. There are five factions; we have the SCAN, we have the MAJAN, we have AMJON, we have the MARAN and we have the League of Maritime Editors and I want to assure you that there is no quarrel between all these factions.

“What we want to do is the NUJ has plan in the offing to unite all these bodies to have an umbrella body so that the umbrella body can be regulating the maritime journalism sector. Everybody can still be on its own but the regulatory body will still be coordinating.

“We are thinking on this and when the time comes, we shall invite all the heads of these associations to discuss about this matter. I can assure you that the maritime journalism family is intact, we are one. It’s only that we need to be on the same page.”

Speaking earlier in a goodwill message, Mr. Sesan Onileimo lamented the fractionalization of MARAN which has seen the springing up of four other beat associations from the association adding that “If it was when MARAN was just one body, the capacity and the caliber of people you will have in this hall will be so intimidating.”

He noted that that was why he always appeal to all those who had a hand in bringing MARAN to this level to change their minds and try to go back to the good old days when there was just one body for maritime journalists saying that “We had more honour, we enjoyed more respect, we spoke with emphasis, we were respected but today, all those things that made us MARAN have been taken away from us.”

“I want to appeal to our colleagues who have left, I know very well that empires are difficult to form but once you form an empire and you have an emperor, the emperor holds that empire he would never want to relinquish but if it is still possible to do that; perhaps, this is what we can take away today.

“I remember about three years ago, I have a privilege then to call for a meeting of all the bodies that have sprang out of MARAN, a communiqué was reached and was signed by all of them but midway into bringing it to fruition, some people pulled out again and say they are not going to sign and that they were not going to execute this communiqué.

“It bleeds my heart to see a MARAN that we have today. I am happy that the MARAN the likes of Barr. Tino Buoro bequeathed to us, the MARAN that Mr. Emmanuel Adegbe bequeathed to us that people like us took up and took to the point of recognition has been brought down at a particular point. All those who have a hand in bringing MARAN to its knees would have to assist MARAN to get up. I will not mention names but it is an opportunity to say that they have not done MARAN any good at all”, he added.

Onileimo further reminded members of the association that the essence of journalism was productivity arguing that if as a journalist, one does not have a medium where he or she is practicing; such a person is a journalist by name but not in practice.

“As many as those who are in MARAN today who are yet to measure up in terms of medium where they can report, where you are visible, then, you are also not helping MARAN. If you are a member of MARAN but every day, every week, month in, month out, you don’t have a byline, you don’t have a medium where you are representing, please, help to build MARAN. MARAN does not have enough visibility and it is because of those who constitute the leadership at the moment are not very productive upwards”, he further stated.

On his part, the 11th President of MARAN and now a legal luminary, Barr. Valentino Buoro emphatically aligned his position with that of Onileimo but quickly added that the former presidents of MARAN, as professionals who were in the first generation could build up a programme of training for those coming behind them.

According to him, “The hands-on experience that we have gathered in the field is enough to build a training programme. There is the need for training and retraining. I should be able to hold out myself as a maritime reporter. If I am a maritime reporter, I am distinct from any other reporter and that is the truth. But are we making any use of it? Or are we content with whatever comes as a pest from our operations?

“I think the time is now that we should have an inward search, a reflection about where we want to see MARAN in many years in future. Our time is past, some of us have branched into other organizations, some are into other professions but the institution remains and we should be proud to come in and say former MARAN President, it makes some meaning. But if we break MARAN into tethers, at the end of the day, some people might even be shy associating themselves with the body.

“My charge to you Mr. President of MARAN today is, sit down with some of us and discuss way forward. There are so many other things, all over the place; there are so many online courses over and again. Why can’t we reach out to some foreign bodies that can give you online training in maritime matters? It doesn’t cost you anything, you don’t need to go anywhere and when you built capacity, it is difficult to send you out or push you when you have capacity.”

Also speaking, another former President, Mr. Ray Ugochukwu while in agreement with the previous speakers observed that MARAN was a brand but members missed it along the line.

He pointed out efforts in past to realign were rebuffed.

In his words, “I know when the merger issue failed, some of us went back to MARAN and said, please, MARAN is a brand, let us fly by that name but people felt that we are number one. I only pray that our MARAN should not turn to a Dinosaur which went into extinction because it failed to align with modern changes. Like Barr. Tino said, there is the need for all of us to sit down and talk and know how to refashion the MARAN.”

In his opening address, a former National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu while noting that fractionalization was a way of life, he however advised MARAN to remain focused as according to him, “others can just be like but cannot be the same as MARAN.”

Shittu maintained that all the old hands today in maritime journalism were all MARAN brought up saying “In fact, sometimes, we don’t even know the difference between MARAN, MAJAN, AMJON and so on.”

“You must have to overcome by carrying people along. So, those associations that are springing up, some of them might be as a result of the people who set them up not being satisfied with the role they are playing along in MARAN. So, they would want to say, I have this knowledge now, let me go and start up an association. You can do more conferences, always inviting them, giving them the assignment that MARAN is the umbrella, the home; all others should be seen as the children just like all the associations in the freight forwarding are the children of ANLCA”, he concluded.

Photo: The former President of MARAN and Chairman, NUJ, Lagos State Council, Mr. Adeleye Ajayi.

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