AFTER 26 years in existence, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) state secretariat built by the former Military Administrator of Kwara State, Wing Commader Mohammed Ndatsu Umaru on June 21, 1986 as sign of love to the state journalists, is about to be demolished by the state Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led government with a view to creating space for car parks during President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s one-day visit to Kwara State next week Monday.
The Kwara State Council of the NUJ, during its emergency congress on Tuesday, had declared her readiness to give the proposed demolition total resistance, stressing that they have all legal documents on the land and Saraki’s government could not in any form eradicate all the legacies previous governments had put in place.
OSUN DEFENDER gathered that Saraki’s government has also declared its intension to demolish the permanent headquarters of Herald newspapers, built by Governor Muhammed Alabi Lawal for its foreign medical experts, who would be using it.
Declaring their stand after the emergency meeting which lasted over three hours, members of the Kwara State Council of the NUJ noted that they were not in any form against the government of Saraki, but they could not fold their arms watching the government demolish the building without giving the council adequate time to prepare an alternative place.
The state government had issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the union to park away from the secretariat situated along Government House Road in order to create space for cars during Yar’Adua’s visit.
In its communiqué, the council stated: “That we, as a council, do not disapprove of the request in the us to move out of the press centre if it is for public interest. That the council as partners-in-progress with the Kwara State Government would cooperate with the government. However, the congress frownent at the suddenness of the order to vacate our premises (for which we have the relevant documents) within 72 hours without alternatives.
“That this order will cause a lot of disruptions to our activities and programmes in many ways. That the council resolved to settle the matter amicably, without resulting to legal tussle. That the state government should provide a new location, where all facilities in the present location are replicated by the government. That movement out of the present location within 72 hours is not visible”.
The communiqué signed by the Council Chairman. Stephen Oni, Secretary, Timothy Nathaniel, Chairman Drafting Committee, Mr Kayode Adeyipo and the Drafting Committee secretary, insisted that the council considered Saraki’s government as a friend of journalists and they would not like that long relationship to become strained, stressing that if it was because of car park during the president’s visit, the council was ready to accommodate any vehicle that would be parked at the secretariat, as they have done during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s visit then.
The development has however created a lot of tension in the state as journalists including state-owned media are ready for a showdown with the governor, if he is the one behind the planned council secretariat’s demolition.
From LANRE LAWAL, Ilorin