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By Sunday Ajibola Edobor

 When we talk of man as the catalyst for development, in these climes many take it as unimportant. Having neglected or pretend not know the enormous power and influence leadership wields,  our society keeps moving in circle in form of merry-go-round. No nation, society was made good by God, the Heavens or any supernatural force somewhere. Every improvement, advancement and innovation we witness were made by men, yes men, serious minded, visionary, selfless and determined people under the guidance of worthy men at the helm of affairs. On the other hand and regrettably, stagnation in societies is the resultant effect of poor leadership. As we have it in governance, so it is in organisations, societies, unions and groups. The way we have become by deliberate action of the people we always entrust with our destiny, give the wrong impression that our collective stagnation is God's making or nemesis of disobedience. 

   For the Ondo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ) this is the season of change. Change, real turn around from the past narrative, is manifesting. You do not need binoculars to see this sharp departure from the past. You and I can now see and understand properly, that making a difference has nothing to do with mouthing or making a ceremony out of it. Real turn around emanates from those who are willing.

   From rehabilitation carried out on the physical structure of the building, to reviving of the Social life at the Centre and positioning the NUJ as a Union that places emphasis on fighting the course of its members, the current leadership NUJ has brought the union alive. And that is the reality, the new story of our Union. 

    The past few years have not been in tandem with the spirit of unity and camaraderie a professional union such as NUJ had been known for. For most of us, we were not accustomed to those dark days. I will not burden myself by rehashing the intrigues, in-fighting and policking that nearly tore us apart. That is better left for where it belongs: history. 

   Men who wrought changes are not Angels, wizards or the most talented or gifted ones. They are men of vision. They look at ugly situations and make up their minds to alter the trend. As we have it among politicians, NUJ election is always characterised by intrigues, character assassination, lobbying and the like. However, we do not go to the extent of atsnuffing live out of ourselves. 

The emergence of Prince Leke Adegbite as the Chairman of the Union was a collective decision, a consensus, sort of. If that word sounds too positive, let me clarify it. He had the backing of majority of members. From Ministry of Infirmation, OSRC, NTA, Correspondents, Federated, Federal Information, Hope newspaper to Positive FM chapels, Leke supporters submerged the dissenting ones. He managed to make all aggrieved chapels and disgruntled members have faith in him. 

  Exactly a year ago, he, along with other members of the State Exco took the oath of office administered by a legal practitioner and witnessed by a National Officer. Immediately, the young man and his team, swung into action. They have built bridges across the different divides. The team has met virtually everyone that matters in the state. NUJ can now boast of a robust and sound relationship with the political class, NLC and royal fathers etc. The New Exco has accomplished, recorded a major landmark: government payment of the backlog of gratuities owed our members in the Hope newspapers. (It's in tens of millions).

 The Guest House has been commercialised. It has been leased to a private person. This is noteworthy as past leaders mouthed it but never succeeded in implementing it. 

    Social life in the Center has not only been revived but has been reinvigorated. The bar no longer suffer from inertia of inactivity. It has become beehive of activities with journalists from all the chapels visiting and partaking in one form of activity or the other. Draught and Ayo Opon are available for those interested to play. Table Tennis is equally there for 24 hours. Virtually everyday, in the evening, our members will sit round the fountain to discuss and have fun. Better days are here.

  Now, to the dramatic personae, who have made the bar a place of choice for fun and relaxation. .  There is this young man, Joseph Adesuyan, popularly known as Eti. He is the enfante terrible of the new set of journalists around. Rancorous, raw and boisterous, Eti is unmissable and unmistakable among the lot. Full of youthful exuberance, he has a loud voice under a Lagosian accent. 

   Next is Ayolomo, the songbird. He can sing Fuji for a whole day. He has a sharp tongue with biting snippets. A typical Ibadan man, Ayolomo loves life and enjoys having fun with everyone. The multiple award winner does everything well. He basks in the joy of being friendly with all and sundry. By his clownish nature, Ayolomo makes the Press Center lively.

   A senior member of the NUJ, who calms the nerves of the new set of boys is Tope Okeowo. He gets involved in playing all the games except Ayo Opon. Tope equally brings historical perspective to any dialogue to set the records straight. 

   We also have Kayode Animasaun, alias Jeje. Do not let his massive frame deceive you, he adds a lot of colour to activities in the Center. His voice is as loud and overbearing as his physique. The journalist/musician is a friendly but troublesome. 

    Tosin and Tope  are gentlemen, compared toJeje Eti and Ayo. Aside contributing to gists, they are always busy and calm. 

Peter Dada is always around. He adds to making the Center bubbling with his ever conservative pulchritude and comments. He takes part in draught game. 

  Tunde is in-between the trouble makers and the gentle ones. He could be loud now and simmer the next minute.

    Now to the suave, easygoing and friendly Vice Chairman, Hakeem, popularly called Assorted. Hakeem is friendly, cool as cucumber and exerting. He seems to have a natural distaste for trouble. Were he not a journalist, he would have been a good Cleric. 

   I cannot but mention the Secretary, Meshack. He seems to enjoy being with himself when ever he is around. The Irele-born journalist is very active when the talk us in on politics. And he is equally a good supporter and observer of draught game particularly when Ajii is dealing with Tope, Peter or Otabor. 

Kunle Awesu comes in to throw jibes at us and 'yab' his friends.

Adesoye breezes in regular to join his contemporaries. He is not the quiet type and neither is he among the most vocal. He is gregarious as he mixes with all.

  Another of the new set of young journalists that visit the Center is Ray. He is not noisy or cantankerous. The Owo-born journalist is always dainty in any type of attire he adorns. Ray talks in the tone of a man trying to persuade a girl to date him. 

  Otabor Friday, "my wife" loves draught game. If he is not filing his report, you would see him playing or waiting to take his turn. He loves enjoying himself.

Dr. Abimbola, Bolu Eso, Pastor Dayo Johnson and Barrister Sina Ogunjobi fall among the elders, who visit regularly but not everyday. Sina is a 'commentator' on draught players. Occasionally, he joins the fray to play Ayo Opon and draught. The other two are very active when engaging in discussions over myriad of topics. Pastor Dayo prefers being an observant of happenstances at the Centre.

 Segun Falomo, Ayo Adediran, Fidelis, Ayodeji (CPS Olowa) are as regular at the Embassy as others. Ayo takes part in games and likes to have his way. His voice could give him away as being troublesome, but that is deceptive. He is cool and minds his business.

   Prince Momoh and Jacob Akindele are some of the most quiet members, who throng the Centre. While Adewale takes part in games, Akindele likes being  an onlooker. Yinka of Adaba and Dare have been coming too. 

 The coolest guy among the lot is Tijani. Respectful, religious and easygoing, he is the typical odd man out. Apart from editing his works and praying, one would take him to be a stranger among the journalists. 

 Sunday Ajongbolo, the jolly good fellow, is the most frequent 'senior citizen' that associates with us. He comes in with his constant boyish, friendly smiling disposition. I am not surprised that he seems to get younger everyday. To him, life is a pleasure.

  Yinka is the most regular female that we have. She has a close rapport with the Chairman, a closer one with Assorted. Yinka too, gets along with the elders and the upcoming ones. Precious joins us on a daily basis to file her report, after which she rushes out. Ayo is another regular face. 

Leke Adegbite, leader of the team,  has managed to unite all the chapels. All of them are represented in the State Exco. 

I used to wonder how he managed to become the bride of all. However, during one of our discussions, he made a blurt but I picked it. He said, "years ago, when I made up my mind to pursue this goal of leading the NUJ, I selected people in all the chapels working for my interest."

 Leke must be a good student of history. Having served under two personalities, Sowole and Aderoboye as the Secretary, he learnt what it takes to be acceptable to the majority. He also imbibed the lesson of carrying everyone along. 

Personally, I am delighted with the new spirit of love that envelopes NUJ, Ondo State Council. I cannot forget the feverish and enlivening atmosphere I used to witness at NUJ, Iyaganku Ibadan. Ojo gbogbo bi odun ni. That is the life of journalists for you. 

Thank you, Prince Leke Adegbite, Hakeem Gbadamosi and Meshack Olaoluwa as well as other members of the State Exco. 

You have brought back the dignity and spirit of oneness to our Union, in just a year. 

We are proud of you.


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