The President of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mallam Mohamed Garba, has been elected the new President of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ). The election took place in Casablanca, Morocco, at the end of the third congress of the continental body.
Mallam Garba replaces Omar Faruk Osman Nur, who has served as FAJ President for the past six years. He will be representing the interest of over 50,000 journalists in Africa.
The congress constituted a 9-member steering committee which later elected Mallam Garba as the new President in accordance with Article 9.4 and 9.5 of the FAJ Constitution.
The congress also elected Maria Louise Carvalho of the Angolan Journalists Union as the Vice-President of the Federation, while Stanis Nkundiye of the National Syndicate of Media Professionals in Democratic Republic of Congo retains his position as the Treasurer of the Federation.
Members of the Steering Committee included Ibrahima Khalilloulah Ndiaye (Senegal), Alexandre Niyungeko (Burundi) Muheldin Ahmed Titawi (Sudan) Credo Tetteh (Togo) and the former Vice President of the Federation, Foster Dongozi, from the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) and Mouhamed Bchir Ckakakou ( Tunisia).
Three reserve members to the Steering Committee were also elected namely, Roland Affail Monney (Ghana), Edouard Adzotsa (Congo Brazzaville) and Collin Haba (Rwanda). Monney was nominated by former reserve member of the Steering Committee Bright Blewu, who represented the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA)
In his inaugural speech, the President said that the primary concern of the Steering Committee would be to unite the affiliates in the continent and to ensure that unions in the continent were strengthened in order for them to defend the rights and welfare of their members.
According to him, “The Steering Committee could not do their work effectively without the existence of strong unions. We will endeavour to confront the major challenges before us and will always do the best we can to promote respect of the rights of journalists and to promote quality journalism in Africa”.
Mallam Garba saluted the FAJ ex-President, Omar Faruk Osman Nur, whom he said had demonstrated a lot of determination in the past six years to ensure that FAJ meets the objectives that it has set out for itself at inception.
This Steering Committee, he said, would utilize that working programme set up by the former Steering Committee, and would not at any time hesitate to contact and consult with Faruk, in order to tap from his wealth of experience.
Mallam Garba thanked the Moroccan Union of Journalists for hosting the Congress. He also thanked the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) President, Jim Boumelha for his unwavering support to the unions in the continent and his dedication to ensure safety and protection of journalists in Africa and the world at large.
He assured the IFJ President that he would continue to work with the IFJ in the most effective manner and would keep its doors open to all the regional associations in the continent.
The 2-day congress gave delegates from 34 countries the opportunity to look at the governance and policies of the Federation, scrutinize and discuss the activities and financial reports, debate and approve motions, review constitutional amendments and working programme for the 2013-2016 term as well as elect new leadership. Delegates also addressed pressing issues facing journalists and their organisations such as increased attempts to criminalise journalism work, working conditions in the media industry, gender equality, safety of journalists and impunity.
For the first time since FAJ was created, the Congress included an event specifically dedicated to the working programme to achieve gender equality. The Pan-African gender council committee was formally inaugurated by the Congress, making FAJ the first IFJ continental federation that has special structures dedicated to addressing the needs, interests, and issues of women journalists. In that regard, the congress elected Mounia Belafia (Morocco), Fatima Abdulkareem (Nigeria), Carla Lima (Cape Verde), Angele Chisimba (Zambia) and Kadiatou Diallo ( Guinea Conakry) as members of the gender council committee.
Delegates said they were very confident on the new FAJ leadership on which they were expecting to score more key successes to promote and protect the rights of journalists.Delegates tasked the new leadership to rebrand its image in order to maintain a high-level profile with partners and the trade union movement.