By Gbemiga Ogunleye on Guild of Editors election
I have spent the last three weeks debating whether or not to respond to Steve Osuji’s aspersions on the Guild, especially on the Election Committee, on which I served as the Secretary.
Even now, I am still not sure I should but for the sake of posterity and for one’s integrity, I am setting the records straight .
Besides, many of our younger colleagues have been pestering me with calls, wanting me to explain my own side of the story.
I am the first to admit that, it is difficult reading Osuji’s one-sided account without sympathizing with him.
Osuji writes well and has a good mastery of the English language. It is not surprising, therefore, that he swayed some people to his side with his arresting prose.
As usually happens in matters of this nature, Osuji tells only a part of the story favourable to him, to whip up emotions and sentiments.
The result, of course, was that men (and women), who otherwise, should exercise better judgment, flogged the Guild and the Election Committe, without hearing the other side.
They forgot that the all-knowing God, still gave Adam a fair hearing before passing sentence on him in the Garden of Eden.
Few people will doubt that Osuji will make a good President of the Guild. His experience and expertise over the years stand him in good stead.
However, like in every Organisation, there are rules and regulations guiding electoral contest.
I digress: Master Ekele Franklin, 15, emerged as the best candidate in this year’s JAMB examination. He scored 345 marks out of 400.
Unfortunately,the boy won’t be admitted into the public universities on account of his age. Public universities Offer admission to 16-years old and above.
Would it be right to pull down the roof and be casting aspersions on JAMB and the administrators of our public universities because of that.
Osuji forgot to tell his Facebook friends that he sought to contest as the President of the Guild under an amended constitution. The amended constitution was approved and adopted at the 13th All Nigeria Editors Conference , ANEC, and Extraordinary Convention in Portharcourt in 2017.
Article 3 (3) g of our constitution was coined and accepted by members to ensure that ONLY SERVING EDITORS, not former editors, not former editors-in-chief; not members of editorial boards are elected to run the affairs of the Guild of Editors! Osuji is a member of the Editorial Board of The Nation. He was an editor many years ago but not Currently an editor.
For the avoidance of doubt, I quote the article: “Former occupants of the seats mentioned in Article 3 (2, a,b&c and retired members, provided they continue to be of good character and discharge their financial obligations to the Guild; they can vote at the National Convention and conferences. They CANNOT be elected but can only be appointed into sub committees. ”
That is our constitution.
In plain language, you might have joined the Guild 200 years ago, if you are not currently deciding what is fit to be published , either online, in the radio and TV or in the newspapers and magazines, you cannot be elected into the executive of the Nigerian Guild of Editors.
A law may be bad but until it is changed, it remains the law.
Our duty in the Election Committee was to interpret the law as it is, not as it should be.
Osuji made a show of his 17 years membership of the Guild. I have been a member for over two decades; I have served as Assistant General Secretary; Ag. General Secretary and Vice President (West), I also, am not qualified to contest election into the Exco. We all subscribed to that provision in our constitution.
Osuji wasn’t the only aspirant disqualified. The Committee even disqualified an aspirant whose name had already been printed on the ballot papers, yet , none of them disparaged their colleagues or the Guild.
Osuji gave the impression that he only knew of his disqualification on Election Day. Most members of the Guild will testify that I had written an email to all members on the Guild’s list serve, informing them of those cleared to contest the election and those disqualified. And the Election Committee wrote all aspirants disqualified and gave reasons.
Osuji described his colleagues as “so-called editors” and the Exco of the Guild as “a conclave of desperadoes” and people who wish to “sit-tight.”
Members of the Exco are capable of defending themselves but to to assert as he did that “they twisted the constitution and suborned the Election Committee and have it speaking in strange tongues” is stretching the license of free speech too far.
Except Osuji is judging the Committee by his own standard, not one member of of the Committee can be compromised.
Osuji forgot to tell his Facebook friends that, to quote him: “I have served on the various committees, including the one to produce a clean and final final copy of the current constitution, along with Mrs.Dupe Ajayi-Gbadebo.”
Really? Why then did he say he was elected two years ago under the same constitution?
Mr. Osuji’s lawyer had written the Election Committee and the Guild before the election, threatening to stop the election and to nullify the whole process, if the Committee held the election.
I thought that was a civilized approach, instead of calling those whom you want to lead idiots, especially, since the “idiots” voted for you two years ago!