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‘We restored integrity, confidence in NUJ Lagos’

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The Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) have named the newly rebuilt Nigerian Institute of Journalism House, Adeyemo Alakija Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, as ISMAILA ISA HOUSE

Dr. Qasim Akinreti is the immediate past chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos chapter. In this interview with ENIOLA DANIEL, he spoke about his time in office.

What changes did you bring to Lagos NUJ during your tenure?
I INTRODUCED transparency and accountability by introducing bank alerts for three principal officials of the union — the chairman, secretary, and treasurer. Before my regime, only the chairman received bank alerts.

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During my time, two people signed cheques and three officials approved vouchers raised for all expenses and financial reports were published at every congress until the vice-president ‘B’ zone advised us to revert to the quarterly report.

I restored the integrity of the unit ensuring that we raised the bar of trust and confidence of members and the public. These resulted in donations of N25 million by the Lagos State government for the remodeling of the NUJ Secretariat and N2 million from Elizade Motors, while Lotgrant Plc donated nine laptops for the digital room of the remodeled secretariat.

But some members alleged that you said N15 million should go to ‘elders’ of the union while N5 million be used for renovation, how true is this?
No. This allegation is not true. The congress approved N2 million for public relations and the remaining N23 million for the remodeling project. That has been done.

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Some also alleged that you did not remit some money to the Union?
Again, this is an outright falsehood. I ensured all funds from the NUJ Lighthouse Complex and other funds are paid directly into the union accounts and three principal officials received bank alert. This was fully outlined in the auditor’s report. I challenge anyone to come up with allegations of fraud or embezzlement against me during my three-year tenure.

Was there really a gang-up against you, even among your officials?
Yes, there were gang-ups from various interests who were denied unfettered access to the council funds under my regime.
My style of administration was quite unique in terms of results and value addition. I was very meticulous and worked on initiatives of all.

Did you perceive undue interference from Abuja?
I think the question should be addressed to Abuja. You can be sure I will not collude with anyone to cheat Lagos journalists in any form or circumstances. All financial responsibilities to the National Secretariat will be done and are being done, but it is the contrary from the NUJ National Secretariat in terms of payment of a percentage of check-off dues from the Federated chapels in the last three years.

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Why was the NUJ election not held the first time?
This was due to disagreements over the exclusion of some chapels.

Why were they disenfranchised despite paying their levy?
I think you need to ask the national Secretariat of the NUJ.

Part of the anger of some senior colleagues in the industry was the naming of the NIJ house after Isa Funtua, were you in agreement with the renaming?

No, I was not in agreement with naming the NIJ House after the late Mallam Isa Funtua. I was not privy to any meeting on such an agreement.
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