President of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mohamed Garba, has been elected as the new President of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ).
The NUJ President was elected at the just ended third congress of that continental body representing the interests of over 50,000 journalists in Africa, held in Casablanca Morocco.
Mohamed Garba replaced Omar Faruk Osman Nur, who served as FAJ President for the past six years.
The Congress in accordance with Article 9.4 and 9.5 of the FAJ Constitution, elected a 9-member steering committee, which later elected Mohamed Garba as the new President.
In the same vein, Maria Louisa Carvalho of the Angolan Journalists Union was elected as the Vice President of the Federation, while Stanis Nkundiye of the National Syndicate of Media Professionals in the Democratic Republic of Congo retains his position as the Treasurer of FAJ.
Other 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 Chakakou (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 his country man and former reserve member of the Steering Committee Bright Blewu, who represented the GJA at the Congress.
In his inaugural speech, the new President Mohamed Garba, said that the primary concern of the new Steering Committee would be to unite the affiliates in the continent and moreover to ensure that unions in the continent were strengthened in order for them to defend the rights and welfare of their members.
The Steering Committee, he emphasized, 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”.
Mohamed Garba paid tribute to the outgoing FAJ President, Omar Faruk Osman Nur, who he said had demonstrated a lot of determination for the past six years to ensure that FAJ meets objectives that it has set out for itself at its inception.
This new 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.
FAJ President thanked the Moroccan Union of Journalists for hosting the Congress. He also thanked the IFJ President, Jim Boumelha for his unflinching support to the unions in the continent and his commitment 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 make its doors continuously open to all the regional associations in the continent.
The two day congress gave delegates from 34 countries the opportunity to look at the governance and policies of the Federation, scrutinized and discussed the activities and financial reports, debated and approved motions, reviewed constitutional amendments and working programme for 2013-2016 as well as elected new leaders.
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 women equality. The Pan-African gender council committee was formally put in place sanctioned by the Congress, making FAJ the first IFJ continental federation that has special structures dedicated to address the needs, interests, and issues of women journalists.
In that regard, the congress elected Mrs 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.
FAJ over the years had received recognition and support from its parent organization, the International Federation of Journalists and claims the position of legitimate voice of journalists and journalism in Africa.
Delegates asked the new leadership to rebrand its image in order to maintain a high-level profile with partners and the trade union movements. GNA