Governors of South-South region were absent at the Regional Security summit 2019, with only host Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state and his counterpart, Mr. Godwin Obaseki of Edo state physically in attendance.
Sources hinted that observers expressed surprise at the non physical presence of the governors of Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, and cross River States, but sent representatives at the event where a major schism developed in media circles in Asaba, the State capital over discrimination against a cross section of journalists that do not report for the old and established media outfits in the coverage of government’s events in the state.
This situation of discrimination which is perpetrated against some members of the chapels of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Delta Council in Asaba again came to the fore on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 when many journalists, were denied access to cover the very important event of the South-South Nigeria Police Regional Summit with the theme “Strategic Partnership for Effective Policing,” aimed at strengthening community policing.
To the chagrin of journalists, they were denied access to the Event Centre venue of the summit and refused accreditation that should give them tags to enter.
Accreditation officials said tags for journalists had been collected and taken into the venue, and so the journalist cannot be allowed to go in. Affected were many journalists of the Indigenous Correspondents Chapel of the NUJ, including Mr. Chijioke Ugbolue, publisher of cshowcasenews.com, Mr. Chukwudi Abiandu, editor-in-chief of Banner online News; Mr. Julius Oweh, former editor of The Pointer newspaper, among numerous other journalists, all of who are NUJ members.
Calls were put through to NUJ Chairman, Mike Ikeogwu who said we should contact a particular journalist reporting for a particular newspaper. The journalists wondered if the correspondent is the one to determine who should cover the event. The correspondent came and was seen handing over tags to members of the Correspondents Chapel of NUJ only, while the rest journalists remained stranded as they waited through the unfolding drama of shame.
Shortly, an official of the Ministry of Information came out and was eye-picking, and handing over accreditation tags to those he said the Commissioner for Information Charles Aniagwu, directed him to give tags to.
Seeing the show of shame, demeaning discrimination many journalists, including Abiandu, had to leave.
He said: “Later, and long after I had left the venue the official of the Ministry of Information, who earlier had eye-picked and given tags to those he said he was directed to give tags, called me on phone asking where I was. I told him I had left because I could no longer allow myself to be subjected to the demeaning humiliation and discrimination that was going on.”
Journalists are wondering why the regime of discrimination is being introduced against journalists who are not working for the major media houses in Asaba in recent times.
It was argued that even if the Ministry of Information officials in Asaba believe in doing business only with journalists working for the established media houses, should that make other journalists working for other bodies to be deprived access to cover an event of the magnitude of a security summit of the South-South, which was organized by the office of the Inspector General of Police?
Indeed, is it possible for all the established media houses to employ all the numerous journalists being churned out from the various departments of Mass Communication in the country?
One of the journalists who run a media online outfit said being self-employed ought to be in line with the entrepreneurship drive of the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s administration that is encouraging youths to be creative and become entrepreneurs.
On discrimination, attention was called to the oath of office which government officials took; swearing to God that they will not discriminate against persons in their official conducts in the discharge of their duties.