he Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Tony Adibe, came down heavily on the leadership of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Enugu State Council for the indiscriminate sale and lease of all the parcels of land on the entire large premises of the Council popularly called Enugu Press Centre. Governor Ugwuanyi, who spoke harshly about the development at the weekend during the Enugu NUJ Press Week held at the Press Centre, condemned strongly the sale of land in the Press Centre, describing it as very shameful.
“Journalists in the state have been calling on the state government to come and build this and that project for them at the Press Centre, but where is the space to build any such project?
“You people should go and ask yourselves questions: What did you do with the land donated to you journalists by Chief Ukpabi Asika-led government of the defunct East Central State?
“It’s very shameful that out of the plots of land, the only space you now have is this space housing the Press Centre block.
“Chief Ukpabi Asika didn’t give you the land for you to sell or lease to anybody. He gave it to you as Press Centre and it should be treated as such,” said Ugwuanyi, who was represented on the occasion by the state commissioner for Information, Mr. Chidi Aroh.
He added: “After asking yourselves critical questions about the land; when you people are ready, I will arrange for you to have a meeting/interaction with the Governor.”
Daily Trust on was reliably informed that the Press Centre, located on the Rangers Avenue, Independence Layout, Enugu was donated to the Journalists as their secretariat by the late Administrator of the defunct East Central State, Chief Ukpabi Asika during the military era of General Yakubu Gowon as Nigeria’s Head of State in early 1970s. The huge expanse of land measuring about eight plots with a large edifice sitting on its centre was built as one of the ministers’ quarters by the government of Dr Michael Okpara as Premier of Eastern Region in the 1960s.
It was also gathered that the attempt by a former Chief Executive of Nigerian Communication Commission, Chief Earnest Okonkwo to build and donate a legacy structure –a Resource Centre/Library for journalists within the press centre was scuttled by the avaricious leadership of the Enugu NUJ at the time, who insisted on having the project “converted to money/cash” which members of the leadership would have shared.
But rather than develop the land as a Resource Centre where scholars can come and make research work, aside from letting out steam after a hectic day’s job, the leadership of Enugu NUJ decided to turn it into a “mini goldmine” where every chairman of the council ‘would dig for gold and make millions’ by selling/leasing the entire space to the extent that nothing is left.
A veteran journalist, said: “It’s so sad. Each chairman of NUJ in the state tried to make quick money from the massive plots in the press centre by indiscriminate sale of the land without rendering account at the end of the whole transactions. It’s a pity and a shame.” (Daily Trust)