The Lagos delegates at the Triennial conference and elections of the National Association of Women journalists (NAWOJ) must have left some impression on the hearts of other delegates and residents of the ancient city of Benin in Edo State when the 42-seater luxurious bus arrived that afternoon in preparation for the “mother of all campaigns’’ at the venue which is a few blocks from the House of Igbinedion.
Three years ago, Lagos State was the host to NAWOJ in Badagry where the delegates were lodged for three days to fulfill the constitutional provision of the association which makes it mandatory for the women journalists to elect a new set of executives who will lead the association for three years.
In 2014, Ifeyinwa Omowole was elected as President of NAWOJ. She enjoyed an overwhelming support from the Lagos delegates who are usually the largest of the collective.
Inspite of the paucity of funds and some challenge with logistics, the Lagos delegates arrived in Benin to campaign for Omowole, the incumbent President using popular songs and chants. From Gospel to Waka music, the Lagos delegates bore such excitement that was unmatched at the venue. Some members of the campaign team for Omowole even volunteered to interprete some of the songs rendered in Yoruba language to some delegates who were curious to know the meaning of their humourous songs.
The Lagos delegates took advantage of the drummers who were at the venue to sing praise songs for Omowole whose campaign promises include training, housing and off-shore training for NAWOJ members. As expected, the Lagos NAWOJ delegates constituted the highest at the centre but still demonstrated the true spirit of Lagos, with patriotic chants and good demeanor.
In the end, Ifeyinwa Omowole secured 410 votes to earn a second term as President while her opponent Biliqees Oladimeji lost to her with her 270 votes. For the post of the Vice-President, Mariam Mohammed secured victory over Aisha Alli with 375 votes ahead of the 292 votes from the supporters of Alli.
Ladi Bala beat three other candidates to secure a spot as the National Secretary with 253 votes against Daharatu’s 206, Joy Idam’s 74 and Tani Samuel’s 146. Helen Udofa’s 450 votes against Dorothy Abelegah’s 219 votes sealed her victory as the National Assistant Secretary while the National Auditor, Sola Jacobs retains her position with 368 votes which is a far cry from Amina Eboh’s 301 votes.
One of the most anticipated of the results was that of the post of National Treasurer which saw Tosin Odusola being kicked out of office with Ify Obi’s 368 votes against her 310 votes. Perhaps, it is also the most sensitive position because the association, lately, had grappled with allegations of misappropriation of housing funds. But the records had been set straight with the documents presented by the President to back her claim of integrity, thus rebuilding confidence in the association.
It must be mentioned that the ballot papers for the NAWOJ elections had a better look than before. Also, the elections commenced very early in the evening and most delegates cast their votes before midnight. The counting of votes ran late into the early hours of the next day, May 19, when most delegates had returned to the hotels to unwind. Only accredited observers were permitted to wait through the night to ensure best electoral practices.
Following the announcement of the results, the National Campaign Co-ordinator for Ify Omowole Campaign Team, Bimbo Oyetunde expressed her appreciation for the unflinching support from the Lagos delegates using the social media platform.
The conference, which preceded the elections, was declared open by Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki who was represented by the Head of Service, Gladys Idahor. She commended the women journalists for their contribution to national development.
Her words were echoed by the National President, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Abdulwaheed Odusile who enjoined the women to work as family during the elections.
Omowole expressed gratitude to the state government for their gracious support towards the hosting of the triennial conference. Omowole has set the record as the first NAWOJ President to secure victory at second term in office.