Congratulatory messages have been pouring in in torrents for the newly elected Edo State chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, Festus Alenkhe who on Friday was sworn in as the 17th chairman of the union after a keenly contested election.
Alenkhe, ace crime reporter and Controller News at the state-owned Edo Broadcating Service, EBS defeated his opponent, Titus Akhigbe of the Daily Times newspaper with 228 votes to 126.
Andy Egbon of The Observer emerged Secretary with 139 votes against the 125 votes garnered by his closest rival, Osagiede Kehinde, while Solomon Obozunya scored 232 to dislodge erstwhile treasurer, Isibor Lucky who trailed behind with118 votes. Imelda Osayande retained her position as vice chairman as she was unchallenged.
Congratulating Alenkhe on his victory, the state governor, Godwin Obaseki described the outcome of the NUJ election as a reflection of the choice of journalists and media professionals across the different chapels in the state.
Governor Obaseki stated that as a thorough-bred journalist who has distinguished himself in crime reporting, he was confident that Alenkhe would bring his wealth of experience to bear in the administration of the NUJ in the state.
He urged Alenkhe to unite the NUJ and mobilise members of the union to meet their functions of providing information, enlightenment, entertainment, and surveillance to the larger society.
In a similar vein, the state deputy governor, Philip Shaibu, described Alenkhe’s victory as a good one for the Union and all practising journalists in Edo State.
Shaibu advised the new chairman to make personal efforts to reach out to his opponent, adding that for the fact that he garnered 126 votes showed that some reasonable persons wanted him to lead the union.
According to the deputy governor, “I want you to be magnanimous in victory, rather than to see it as a case of winner takes all. Try and carry everybody along; be a team player and take it that everybody voted for you to lead the Union”.
Shaibu advised Alenkhe to “Try and leave indelible foot prints in the Union at the end of your three years tenure. Let your members not regret the support given to you today. Make them happy and reach out to other credible sister associations like the NBA, NMA, to see how to better our state”.
He assured that the Godwin Obaseki administration was ready to partner with him in the general interest of the Edo people.
In his congratulatory message, factional Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Marcus Onobun, said with Alenkhe’s victory, the NUJ in the state had commenced a new phase of development and progress . Describing the new chairman as a thoroughbred journalist who had used his experience as a crime reporter to aid ridding the society of criminals, Onobun assured him of the state Assembly’s continued relationship with the fourth estate of the realm.
He wished Alenkhe well in his endeavours, and prayed for his success throughout the three-year tenure.
Also felicitating with the new NUJ chairman, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Benin Branch, (the Lion Bar) expressed confidence that Alenkhe would move the NUJ to an enviable height. It described the election as peaceful, transparent, and devoid of rancor.
In a press release signed by it’s Chairman, Pius Oiwoh, the association expressed gladness at this development.
The Statement read in part: “As partners in progress and stakeholders in the advancement and strengthening of democracy, we have always seen the NUJ as our brother and identified with each other in programmes and activities, hence invitation was extended to us to be observers/monitor in the election which was adjudged peaceful, transparent and devoid of rancour.
“We are hopeful that Mr. Chairman, judging from his antecedence and experience, will move the Edo NUJ to an enviable height.
“We wish Comrade Festus Alenkhe and members of his new executive a successful tenure”
Speaking at his swearing-in ceremony at the NUJ Press Centre, Alenkhe thanked those who voted for him, but pledged to be the chairman of every journilst in Edo State.
“I want to thank everyone who voted for me, those 226 persons that voted for me, I want to state that I have no enemy to fight; it is a contest.
“It is given or give out. I am not the chairman of a section; I have a manifesto. I want to state that the manifesto has begun to run. I am in a haste to develop Edo NUJ.” he stated.