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NUJ involvement in maritime reporters training sparks row

The proposed capacity building training for maritime reporters appeared to have hit the brick wall as a number of the beat reporters take taking exception to the involvement of the Lagos Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ).

The training being sponsored by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and scheduled to hold at the Customs Training School Ikeja, is believed to have been handed over to the NUJ to among other things, superintend participants’ selection.

While beat quite a number of reporters appear averse to this arrangement, those holding executive positions in NUJ have said there was nothing wrong in allowing the union to carry out the responsibility the customs management deem fit to have given to it.

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Those opposed faulted the customs and argued that there was no cogent reason for the customs to deviate from the existing norm, in which the maritime beat associations are mandated to send names of participants.  Some of those questioning the propriety of the selection of NUJ as the OBDUSMAN are non NUJ carrying card members, who feel that the arrangement is targeted at them; especially since membership of the union is voluntary.

Instructively, the flak so far drawn on the matter appeared to have demoralized a lot of reporters including senior practitioners, most of who have adopted siddon look posture; as the altercation increasingly ascended to bad blood, insults and abuses.

The workshop with the theme Responsible Report Of Customs Operations; Imperative for National Security and Economy,  is scheduled to hold on 7th & 8th of April 2021 at the Customs Training College Ikeja, Lagos.

According to a statement by the NCS signed by the Customs Deputy National Public Relations Officer, Timi Bomodi, this 2 day event will see presentations from Nigeria Customs and Journalists, with a further breakout interactive sessions by all participants.

Presentations will be taken on Media Relations best practices, Language of International Trade, an overview of terms and terminologies, Import/Export, Understanding the Role of Customs, E-Customs, the future of Trade facilitation and AcFTA, understanding Free Trade and the challenges of regulation.

Other topics include Coordinated Border Management, imperative for National security, Navigating Social Media and the menace of fake news, and Crisis Communication.

The statement reads in part: “In keeping with the directives of the CDC on social gatherings, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Lagos Chapter has been saddled with the responsibility of selecting (27) of its members drawn from the maritime press as participants for this event. This number will be complemented by 33 officers and staff from NCS (PR unit) & NCBN. Others will be admitted via a virtual platform to be announced soon.”

It is not clear however, whether the NCS in the light of the strong opposition the inclusion of NUJ has attracted will be minded to thinker with the arrangement. While the NCS have been providing maritime reporters with occasional capacity building training for more than a decade, this is the first time it is bringing in the NUJ as umpire.

While there are also strong indication that some media organization forbids their reporters to participate in unionism such as the NUJ, many reporters for their reasons, elected to keep away from NUJ.

Fortunately and unfortunately, while the NUJ acts as a strong pillar of support in times of need and beacon of professionalism for many journalists, other practitioners also feel contented with or without the NUJ appendage.

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