On Wednesday evening, a fake report was published by Whirlwind News, an online medium, with the title: “Rumble in NAN: Staff kick over move to replace Igbo with northerner as Editor-in-Chief”.
In the report, it was alleged that a move to “hoist” a northerner as Editor-in-Chief of NAN was threatening to disrupt operations of the organisation.
The report claimed that staff members were resisting the move.
It said that petitions were already flying with some going to the information ministry and workers threatening a show down if a “Hausa man” was given the job.
It also alleged that “a Yoruba man, who is the MD” has reneged on his earlier position supporting the Igboman.
Ordinarily, we should not worry about such a useless report because no one was quoted and no effort was even made to balance the fraudulent claims, but as a union, we believe it is necessary to react so that no one will be misled by the lies.
There are four unions in NAN – AUPTRE, NUJ, RATAWU and SASSCO -. So, the first thing we all did was to find out whether any of the unions gave the story. We found that no one did.
We also sought to find out whether anyone was approached for any interview on the story. There, too, we found that no one was approached. We concluded, thereafter, that the story is simply a figment of its writers` imagination with the sole goal of deceiving readers into thinking that there was a succession crisis in NAN.
What We Know
What we know is that the current Editor-in-Chief will retire later this month. We also know that an examination was conducted for those qualified and the board has not announced anyone yet. But what is certain is that two deputy directors were promoted to directors. We are told that it was from these two that the EIC would emerge.
But we are surprised that more than two weeks before the retirement of the incumbent, reports are being circulated as to who is the favourite, though we are aware that of the six that sat for the exams, only two were promoted.
We are told that some people had written petitions to the board. Some had gone to the minister. We believe that people have the right to complain. As unions, we have no reason to interfere in this because that is not part of our mandate. We believe that such interference is not even in the best interest of our members because the issue affects the bosses who belong to the unions.
Interfering in the matter will be complicated because we are supposed to strive to protect the interest of everyone. So, who shall support in this matter without hurting our mandate of protecting every member’s interest?
We had discussed this issue extensively at our meetings and even took the matter to the MD who told us that the matter was already before the ministry. We had also tried to shoot down efforts to introduce tribal, regional and tribal dimensions to the matter and have satisfactorily tried to educate each other on the dangers of allowing such sentiments to creep into the issue.
As workers in a federal government agency, we are supposed to be promoting unity and not the other way round.
Clearly, the fake story was planted by desperate people who, perhaps, found that they had no case when they took their complaints to the ministry or board.
They may have, thus, decided to bring sentiments into the matter, hence their resort to use “Igbo” and “Hausa” to whip up dangerous sentiments and breed confusion.
We want to state categorically that no union in NAN is considering a strike over the issue of EIC or any other issue for that matter. The story is fake and should be ignored.
Management should investigate the source of this story and treat its authors and sponsors as saboteurs deserving sanctions that could include sack for trying to cause industrial disharmony and tribal war in a peaceful organisation like NAN.
Finally, we want the “story” to be seen and treated as what it is – fake information planted by desperate individuals seeking to deploy dangerous statements to get what they do not deserve. To such people, our message is clear – the NAN unions are only committed to improved working conditions and are not available to be used for selfish interest.
Mr Suleiman is a labour leader and Chairman of AUPCTRE Union in NAN