One of Nigeria’s foremost journalists and Chairman of the Election Committee of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mr. Ray Ekpu, speaks on Saturday’s convention:
A number contestants running for executive positions in Guild of Editors are threatening to go to court over their disqualification. How did things get to this level?
On a personal level, I think there are defects with the constitution of the Guild. But we as election managers cannot do anything about it.
Our job is to abide by the constitution of Guild. As you know this constitution was brought-in in 2017 and this is the first time we are using it.
Article three of the constitution says you cannot contest for an executive position unless you are a title editor.
The reason they gave for doing this is that they want people that are active in the profession to serve in the guild.
It means people like me who have in the profession for 45 years cannot contest and we have become associate members.
I have been an editor and a fellow of the Guild. There is no room in the Guild for associate members. There are members and there are fellows. So I think the constitution has to change but there is no way around it right now.
The present constitution cannot stand. Something has to be done about. I don’t want to contest but I should have the right to do so
How do you intend to handle the fall-out from the disqualifications and those who are threatening to go to court?
To be honest I don’t know. But going to court is not the answer. It will do more damage to the Guild. As you know, the Guild stopped functioning in 1982 because of an election.
We are not politicians. We are engaged in intellectual work and shouldn’t destroy the association by dragging it through litigations it may not survive.
An election is held every two years. Those that cannot contest should wait and contest in two years. The present constitution cannot stand.
Something has to be done about. I don’t want to contest but I should have the right to do so. At 70, I have to let younger people contest.
You cannot say I have the right to vote but not the right to be voted for. If we love the Guild, which I believe we do otherwise we would not be in it, we should refrain from tying up the Guild in law suits.
We can resolve whatever problems we have amicably. Even a defective constitution can be amended without bringing the Guild into ridicule and disrepute.
How many petitions has the election committee received so far?
I believe there have been four. The is one from Steve Osuji running for president. There are two from those running for Vice President and one other.
But it is the secretary of the election committee that would be in a better position say the exact number of petitions that have been received.
Are you satisfied that there has been substantial compliance with the constitution of the Guild because it appears the 60-day notice that should have been given before the election was not done?
The president has explained that. We could not find a state governor that would host the convention. Even if we had, there was no way the convention could during the general elections in the country.
So it had to be delayed. And after the general elections, the Lagos State Governor agreed to host the convention of the Guild.