By Nguma Isaac
February 21, 2019
After over 10 years of suspense and inability to fully take possession of their plots of land purchased by the Lagos State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), history was made on Monday when the chairman of Union, Dr Qasim Akinreti made real his campaign promise to journalists in the state.
Over 20 Lagos journalists had died without realising the dream of having roof over their heads at Abaren Village, at Mowe axis of Ogun state since 10 years ago after committing funds to the project.
A portion of the land was engulfed with crisis when the National Chairperson of National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Ifeyinwa Omowole and the immediate past chairman of Lagos NUJ, Deji Elumoye cajoled hundreds of journalists into scandalous housing estate to part with several millions of naira and dollars.
Sequel to this, the National Executive Council (NEC) of the NUJ described the attitude of both the NAWOJ chairperson and ex-NUJ as embarrassing and declare backing for the anti-graft agency to probe the duo.
The highest organ of the union also mandated the Lagos state council to terminate the housing contract with the Primewaterview Holding Limited headed by Prince Tunji Ogunwusi that was paid over N70 million naira by Mrs Omowole without delivering commensurable service.
Akinreti, upon his election over a year ago, had pledged to resolve the crisis stalling the handover of the land to subscribers that were also made to pay N30, 000 and N60, 000 respectively for topography and fencing totaling over N20. 6 million was later misappropriated under the regime of Elumoye as Lagos NUJ chairman.
A total of 61 journalists listed in the first batch of the scheme got their land while another 41 on the second batch are scheduled for next week.
Sulaiman Ajayi, a journalist with Lagos State Ministry of Information described the reallocation as a big relief and urged member of the union to cooperate with chairman to take the next step.
“I am happy that after waiting for several years I am able to get the land. The last exco did not bother to take us this far rather they collected our money and did nothing” he said.
Akinreti said hundreds of subscribers to the Abaren land were grouped in batches and would be allocated their land accordingly.
Speaking with TheLeadOnline, the chairman said that “we had to move on to avoid the mistakes of the past by asking members to contribute N10, 000 each to facilitate access to the land after which they were reallocated their plots to enable them to fully take possession.
“In doing so, we gave priority to our late colleagues. We have asked their families to present their receipts and we had given them their portions accordingly. Some of our senior colleagues have also been allocated theirs too. Everyone that subscribed to the project will get their plot before the ending of March.
“Enough is enough, people must access their land. The union is not interested in keeping them waiting. Every of their kobo invested through the union during my tenure is being accounted for. I had to use my property as collateral to secure loan to start the clearing of the land. We are ready to pay whatever sacrifice to make our people happy.
“I am committed to accountability, openness and integrity. On that, we stand. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to our members to do the needful and thereafter get their land without delay” he pleaded.