*Journalists Condemn Award, Say It Was Financially Influenced By Commissioner
HardReporters can authoritatively report that a recent “SMART Ambassador” award presented to the Delta state inexperienced Information Commissioner, Mr. Patrick Ukah by the Indigenous Correspondents Chapel (ICC) of the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ), Delta State Council, has continued to generate controversy as well as attracting condemnation from members of various chapels in the state.
It would be recalled that last month, the Delta State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Patrick Ukah was honoured as the “SMART Ambassador” of the year 2017, by the executive members of the Indigenous Correspondents Chapel (ICC) of the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ), Delta State Council, in his office after gratification and a pledge of a HP desktop computer.
The controversial award which have been condemned by various chapel members and some executive members of the Delta state council of the NUJ, was presented to Mr. Ukah by the chairman of ICC, Mr. Bartholomew Ozah, on behalf of the ICC executive.
HardReporters exclusively learnt that, the award which was bought by the commissioner just to impress his boss, governor Okowa that he was performing his duties as the information commissioner as well as maintaining a cordial relationship with the indigenous newspapers in the state, however teared sparked off mixed reactions with a threat from the state NUJ to withdraw the award, saying Mr. Ukah, does not in anyway deserve the award influenced with money to get.
It was gathered that the controversial award generated some bad blood among Journalists in the state, a situation where some few were in support of the award on the commissioner, while others in their majority condemned in strongest terms the award which they said was bought with money by the commissioner for information.
Confiding in HardReporters correspondent, some staff of the ministry disclosed that several Journalists in the state were not happy over the award as they blamed the leadership of the indigenous chapel for “selling” the award to the commissioner without consulting the state NUJ council.
“The state NUJ secretary who is a staff of the information ministry and a PRO in Water Resources ministry, Churchill Oyowe, former chairman of NUJ, Mr. Norbert Chiazor and other Journalists in their “Journalists forum” on WhatsApp expressed displeasure and queried the indigenous chapel for giving such award to the commissioner, thereby making a mockery of NUJ before the society.
“Infact, Mr. Oyowe and other Journalists in the WhatsApp group who were very furious called for the withdrawal of the award and a sanction on the indigenous chapel for that act without consulting the parent body. At this point, the state chairman of NUJ, and Warri correspondent of the state owned newspaper, ” The POINTER”, Michael Ikeokwu, who benefitted a lot from Ukah during the state NUJ election, countered Mr. Oyowe’s and other Journalists stand on the issue and withdrew the threats of retrieving the award from the commissioner and the proposed sanction on the indigenous chapel.” a credible source stated.
Meanwhile, HardReporters gathered that the HP desktop computer, Mr. Ukah earlier pledged to to the Indigenous Correspondents Chapel of the Delta State Council of the Nigeria Union of journalists (NUJ), during his controversial award, was on Monday presented to the chapel on behalf of Ukah by his Media Assistant, Mr. Sam Ijeh.