Report Presented To The Leadership Of The Nigerian Guild Of Editors

August 25, 2014
6 mins read

Text Of A Report By Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, Fnge, Delegate To The National Conference, 2014, Presented To The Leadership Of The Nigerian Guild Of Editors, August, 2014.


You will recall that I was one of the two candidates nominated to represent the Nigerian Guild of Editors at the National Conference, 2014. I received the nomination with the greatest amount of happiness and saw it as a great honour to represent the NGE, our membership and the Nigerian media in general. In Nigeria’s Centenary Year, an opportunity emerged not only to be part of a National Dialogue, but it was also a tremendous responsibility, given the depth of the crises phenomena that dog our country. I was determined to represent our Guild with utmost faithfulness, with the conviction that the Nigerian Guild of Editors is a pan-Nigerian organization that is dedicated to the survival of Nigeria on the basis of social justice, peace and federalism. I always recalled that as an institution of civil society, the Nigerian media in fact predated and in a most significant sense, helped to create Nigeria! This commitment was what drove all that I did as a Delegate.


From the onset, Delegates from the media, coming from the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ); Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON); Newspapers’ Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), chose to work out a collaborative relationship in defence of the freedoms guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution, in respect of the operations of the media. A meeting was called at the suite of Delegate NdukaObaigbena from NPAN. I attended the meeting but none was subsequently called till the conference ended. Nevertheless, issues that concerned the media at the Conference saw us collaborate. Some of these issues included an earlier call by a delegate for the media to be sanctioned because newspapers published pictures of sleeping delegates. We stopped that. Similarly, we rallied to include a clause in the report of the Committee on Political Parties and Electoral Matters to accept debates by political parties and their candidates as a compulsory part of the process to deepen the nation’s democratic process. We were also central in brokering peace between the leadership of the National Conference and the various journalists accredited to cover the conference. As we might recall, the relationship broke down at various points of the conference, but we helped the trouble-shooting process.


One of the most significant aspects of the Conference, was the way that Delegates were obliged by the circumstance of the divisions within the Conference to also organize within regional/state groups. These levels of organization reflected the deep-seated suspicions in the countryand which were at the base of organizing the National Conference in the first place. So I was active in the Northern Delegates’ Forum and to a much lesser extent, the Kwara State Delegation. I was also active in the Civil Society/Labour Progressive Coalition. My participation in these bodies was a very useful platform to canvass positions which in my conscience, did not vitiate my primary responsibility as a representative of the pan-Nigerian platform of the NGE. Let me illustrate. Northern Delegates had taken a decision to boycott Conference for a couple of days to reflect what was felt to be the neglect by the government of the serious security situation in the country. The way it was framed was clearly going to further divide the conference and the country as well as isolate the Northern Delegation further.


Without being immodest, I was the Delegate that changed the position of the Northern Delegation on the eve of the sitting slated for boycott. My argument was that the security situation should be used to unite Nigerians instead of division. My position was that the killings have been so indiscriminate and that the original narrative was that the insurgency had been started because President Jonathan, a Southerner and a Christian, is in power. It has become clearer that Nigerians now know that we face a criminal insurgency dedicated to the destruction of our country; defeating the insurgency is what should unite all of us. Secondly, I reminded them that when the students of the FGC in BuniYadi were massacred in their dormitories, Nigerians in the South had demonstrated that the state should protect all Nigerian children! My argument broke the plan to effect a boycott and on the contrary, I was nominated to raise a Motion of Urgent National Attention on the security situation. My motion was co-sponsored by all the leaders of the various delegations: Former IGP Coomasie; Chief Edwin Clarke; Chief OluFalae; Prof. Jerry Gana, etc. Tragically, the motion was put to the Conference on the morning of the bombings of the buses at Nyaya. My motion became a most poignant point of unity at a point when Southern Delegates had been poised to react to the plan for boycott by the Northern Delegation. So instead of a potentially divisive boycott, we presented a platform of unity.


I also deliberately cultivated my old and newer contacts to be a bridge builder in the Conference, and that position largely earned us significant levels of influence on all the various levels of divide. Another example of the role I played to unite Nigerians came when a motion was sponsored by Professor KimseOkoko, former Prsident of the Ijaw National Conference. The motion had called for the creation of an Industrialization Corridor in the Niger Delta based on the presence of petroleum products in the Region. Some members of the Northern Delegates’ Forum opposed it. But I broke the impasse by arguing that we should support such an effort, because to industrialize the Niger Delta was actually to industrialize our country. I added that we could use that to kickstart a process of industrial corridors around our country. My argument lifted the opposition and the motion sailed through much to the happiness of Niger Delta and Southern Delegates. I was also the Delegate that blew open the controversy about a so-called “Hidden Agenda” of a ‘Draft Constitution’ and the allegation that the Deputy Chairman of the National Conference, Professor BolajiAkinyemi, had been lobbying some members of the Northern Delegates’ Forum to support a ‘Draft Constitution’. Such a ‘constitution’ remained one of the most divisive issues right through to the end of the National Conference, 2014.


Each Delegate was obliged to speak for THREE MINUTES to the Speech by President Goodluck Jonathan, presented at the Opening Ceremony of the Conference, because it was the speech which set the tone for the commencement of the National Conference, 2014. I have attached my own speech as an appendix to this report. Similarly, I worked as a member of the Committee on Political Parties and Electoral Matters of the National Conference. Our Committee made very far-reaching recommendations that were adopted by the Conference and I believe they were some of the most important recommendations which made the National Conference, 2014, worthy of the effort. As part of my engagement with the National Conference, I also kept writing my weekly columns for the VANGUARD and BLUEPRINT newspapers. I wrote many pieces that analyzed the major issues at the Conference. I have attached copies of ALL the pieces that I wrote during and about the National Conference, to this report.


I worked with utmost dedication and commitment for the success of the National Conference, 2014. There were moments of heated passion about several controversial issues. I was not left out of those heated emotional moments; I was often angry that the Vice Chairman of the National Conference had a bias for calling members of the nation’s nomeclatura to make contributions to the detriment of Delegates with more pan-Nigerian perspectives. I tried to represent Nigerian Editors with dignity; I was true to its ethos and I served to the best of my ability and was always true to my patriotic conscience and consciousness. I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility as a representative of the Nigerian Guild of Editors and it was a historic opportunity to serve the very best interests of our most beloved country, Nigeria.


On a final note, I want to thank our dear President, Femi Adesina, and the entire leadership of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), for giving me the opportunity to represent our Guild and our membership at the National Conference, 2014. I want to state that I consider the last one year as the most important of my professional life of thirty-seven years, as a media worker, broadcaster, journalist and editor. This is because in August 2013, at our annual gathering in Asaba, Delta State, you admitted me to the prestigious Fellowship of the Nigerian Guild of Editors. And in March 2014, you nominated me to represent you as a Delegate to the National Conference, 2014. I will always be grateful for the honour and the opportunity, just as I pledge continued support for our Nigerian Guild of Editors, for as long as I live!


Thank you very much indeed.


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