ANAMBRA State council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has honoured a past chairman of the council, the late Tochukwu Udoji-Omeje by naming the main hall of the NUJ Secretariat after her.
Speaking during the council’s congress held last Thursday at the Godwin Ezeemo International Press Centre, Awka, chairman of the council, Emma Ifesinachi said the late Mrs Udoji-Omelu served the council in her years and her legacies still stand.
On his part, Chidi Eleke, who moved a motion for the hall to be so named said he first met the late journalist in 2008, saying, “she was such a charismatic leader. But among other things, two qualities were responsible for my moving a motion to have the main hall of the Godwin Ezeemo International Press Centre after her.
One is her usual resilience and willingness to protect jou rnalists in the state then. I remember a particular time when I was arrested and beaten up by soldiers for taking a picture of them conducting a demolition exercise, it was Toochukwu that ensured that I was released, and even pressed for compensation for me as my dress was torn by the soldiers.”
He went on to say that his main reason for moving that motion was that the late NUJ chairman started the press centre with no money in her hands, and insisted on completing it, thus bequeathing the union with a press centre.”
Mr. Eleke also recalled the late Udoji-Omelu, lamenting about being unable to pay the rent of an apartment being used then by the council as its secretariat as the union had no money to renew the rent. She immediately resolved that since a former governor had previously allocated a land to the union, they should start work on the land themselves.
“She levied every member one bag of cement each, and only a few people donated, and she stubbornly went to work at the site. Even when she was stopped from working by Awka youths, she engaged Paulson Okeke from Awka to negotiate with the youths, and eventually, when she exhausted the money at hand, she started searching for individuals or organisations that could help the union and before long, the press centre was completed.”
He concluded by saying that the history of NUJ owning a press centre in Anambra State can never be written without giving her credit, and the minutest thing the union could do is to name just one hall out of three, in the complex after her.
Head of News, Purity FM, Awka, Chris Obileri said the late Tochukwu Udoji-Omelu was a go-getter and a mobiliser per excellence.
“She carried every journalist along throughout her tenure. Before her assumption of office, NUJ Anambra State Council was operating from a makeshift office but she was able to rally round to pay for a decent office (Secretariat) accommodation. She was the one who attracted the first 18-seater bus for the council.
In addition, she was the one who worked for the actualisation of the permanent site for the council. “Mr. Obileri further said the late Udoji-Omelu started construction of the permanent building that houses the secretariat and onward occupation of the secretariat by the council, adding that she supervised the much-talked about five-day seminar in Anambra State involving all stakeholders and interest groups.
“Above all, she was the first and only female Chairman of the NUJ in Anambra State.” He stated.
Editor, Fides Newspaper, Jude Atupulazi, described the late journalist an inspirational leader, saying, “she had a way of mobilising people and getting the best from them. She was charismatic and tenacious. She played a great role in bequeathing us the kind of union we have today.”
He concluded by saying he believes no honour will be too big for her.
The late Mrs Tochukwu Udoji-Omelu, before her death in 2014, was a staff of the Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation, publisher of National Light, Ka O Di Taa (an Igbo newspaper), and Sportslight Xtra.
She remains the first and only female chairman ever produced by the Anambra State Council of the NUJ.