By Emeka Mamah
There was excitement in Enugu last week when over 75 journalists from Nsukka Cultural zone in Enugu gathered to take stock of developments in the zone, nothing that the area was marginalised in terms infrastructural needs of the people irrespective of the fact that the area produced the current governor of the state.
The journalists who came from different media organisations across the country and beyond, bemoaned what they described as lack of investments in the area of agriculture, roads, water and education among other sectors, called for more government and private efforts aimed at developing the cultural zone.
In a 23- point communiqué signed by the Chairman of the Nsukka Journalists’ Forum, NJF, Profesdor Nick Idoko, the Secretary, Mr Felix Abugu and Chief Obinwa Nnaji, the media men urged the Enugu State government to, as a matter of urgency, establish a campus of the Enugu State University, ESUT, as well as a state polytechnic at Nsukka cultural zone to address the educational imbalance in the state.
This communiqué read, “Preamble: It became necessary that NJF, should meet formally after its debut a few months ago, for members to interact physically and consider several issues of urgent zonal importance, including but not limited to, identity definition, membership criteria, charter of needs for the development of Nsukka Cultural Zone, the Forum’s vision, mission, objectives, core values and activities, amongst others.
“It was therefore, a great fulfilment that on Monday October 1, 2018, Journalists of Nsukka extraction from all over the country, gathered at Jerry Mariot Hotel in Nsukka to reflect on pressing needs concerning the Nsukka Cultural Zone and proffering possible solutions to the myriad of challenges facing the zone.
“The gathering, first of its kind, took a holistic perspective on the several challenges gnawing at the zone continually and adopted a comprehensive approach to addressing the concerns. Frank as ever, members x-rayed such hydra-headed defects such as in infrastructure, education, environment, potable water, sanitation, health, agriculture, industrialization, information, communication and technology, media and public communication.
“In the light of the successful meeting and attendant conviviality with salient observations, the NJF, resolved as follows:
“The meeting agreed unanimously to maintain the appellation, NJF and be known as a group that must uphold the highest ideals of journalism practice while promoting the values, well-being and development of the Nsukka Cultural Zone.
“The meeting agreed to be a non-governmental, not-for-profit, non-partisan, and non-religious group and not to be beholden to any individual or group interest outside its stated vision, mission, and objectives.
“The meeting agreed that historical context should encourage journalist-members to cover development issues, civil and human rights, and social justice with the depth and insight that lead to a more just society.
“The meeting reached a consensus on the membership criteria, which are to be strictly adhered to, in order to stave off infiltration by strangers who may attempt to hijack the association or misuse and or appropriate its name for private or sinister interests.
“The meeting agreed also that the Nsukka Development Needs, brilliantly captured in a Charter of Needs, be properly and appropriately documented and made available to the concerned quarters and circulated widely.
“The meeting agreed yet again that moves should be made towards reaching out to critical stakeholders in the Greater Nsukka Project for the purpose or harmonizing divergent thoughts and ideas, mobilizing for consensus around critical and emerging issues and challenges with the view of galvanizing appropriate actions.
“The meeting took judicial notice of the gaps that exist in the welfare and professional competencies of journalists, not the least journalist-members, and agreed that efforts should be made to close those gaps by partnering with relevant stakeholder organisations. One way of doing this is to seek support for training of our journalist-members in order to enhance their professional qualifications and expertise aimed at guaranteeing them access to opportunities within the industry and related fields.
“The meeting called for unity of purpose amongst Nsukka Journalists, since lack of it, would create a void, thus making them unable to play key and deserving roles toward the development of the Nsukka Cultural Zone.
“The meeting highlighted and decried the infrastructural decay, poor road network, high level of unemployment of the abundant human resources in the zone, and the grinding poverty that pervades the zone.
“The Meeting noted with concern that the Nsukka Cultural Zone is still in the doldrums of structural and organic marginalization and called on all relevant stakeholders to close ranks and unfold strategic action plans aimed at conscientizing and mobilizing the people to take their destinies in their own hands.
“The meeting noted that the Nsukka Cultural Zone is one phenomenally powerful food basket of the nation, and even in West Africa and Africa, and emphasized the need for collaboration with the federal and state governments for the revival of Adarice at Uzo-Uwani area of Nsukka.
“The Meeting recommended the encouragement and provision of enabling environment for commercial farming and production of the unique but popular Yellow Pepper dubbed ‘Ose Nsukka’, which is one of the most sought after spices in the world.
“The Meeting restated the urgent need for the completion of the dredging and channelization of Adada River for irrigation farming purposes and revamping the Greater Nsukka Water Scheme.
“The Meeting noted that a campus of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) should be sited in Nsukka in conformity with the original plan for a multi-campus university.
“The Meeting noted the imperativeness of relocating the Enugu State School of Agriculture to Uzo Uwani, since School of Agriculture Iwolo has been upgraded to a polytechnic.
“The Meeting noted that the ESUT College of Medicine should be relocated to Nsukka while also a College of Education be established by converting the old TTC Nsukka and also establish a full-fledged state university to be called University of Adada.
“The Meeting noted that it would speak truth to power at all times and would through persuasive counsel show the way forward. In this regard, it will take the lead in the convocation of a formidable Umunkanka Town Hall Conclave, where NJF would engage Political Leaders, Leaders of Thought, traditional rulers, the Intelligensia, and other private/public sector chieftains, including Nsukka personalities in the Diaspora, on issues of culture, patriotism, accountability, performance, youth empowerment, and proffer wise advice on several developmental matters for optimal outcomes.
“The Meeting expressed readiness to partner with International Development Agencies, Foreign Institutions, and Donor Organizations for capacity building, training and development projects toward the overall development of the Nsukka Cultural Zone.
“The Meeting emphasized the need to adopt relevant information communication technologies to drive processes towards innovative development in the zone.
“The Meeting noted the need to commission a well-researched blue print for the total industrialization of the zone.
“The Meeting highlighted the importance of an Nsukka Hall of Fame to celebrate Sons and Daughters from the zone who have distinguished themselves in various capacities and facets of human endeavour especially those who have made unique contributions to the upliftment of the zone.
“The Meeting agreed to uphold the tenets of the profession by being impartial umpire/watchdog, moving away from mundane divisive issues by providing a strong platform that will enable Nsukka people have the latitude of freedom for ventilating their viewpoints, for shaping the zone’s development agenda.
“The Meeting resolved to constitute an interim Executive to manage its affairs. Pursuant to that, the following personalities were appointed thus: “
Professor Nick Idoko – Chairman;
Harrison Ogara – Vice-Chairman; Felix Abugu – Secretary, and Agatha Agu – Assistant Secretary.
“Members attending the summit expressed their satisfaction with the active participation of members, the tone and the camaraderie the NJF has struck and extended their warm felicitations to the Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for the goodwill message sent to its maiden physical summit. There were showers of praise on the host of the meeting, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, as well as on those who initiated and have so far successfully throttled forward this great body, including Prof. Nick Idoko, Mr. Felix Oguejiofor Abugu and Chief Obinwa Nnaji, Veteran Journalist (member).”