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The minor repair work embarked upon by the Imo state government recently at the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Center along Port Harcourt Road Owerri may not go unnoticed with the conspicuous new roof and shinning paint it now wears when viewed from the outside.

The minor repair work embarked upon by the Imo state government recently at the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Center along Port Harcourt Road Owerri may not go unnoticed with the conspicuous new roof and shinning paint it now wears when viewed from the outside.

The project which was in fulfillment of a promise made by His Excellency, Governor Okorocha to the union was applauded when the work started, until it was terminated along the line for no tangible reason after the outside was painted in a hurry.
Today, nothing seems to be happening again on the project as the building has not come out of its dilapidated state when inspected from the inside. We have all waited patiently thinking the next level of work would commence at least to re-fix the inside which was severely damaged when the roof was being removed. The abandonment has really surprised most of us who have maintained a sealed lip and sit-down-look posture on the development, keenly watching to see the next line of action by the state government. The action of the government by terminating the work midway is disappointing and calls for ponderings.  Many journalists who earlier commended the government for remembering the union in their urban renewal program are now questioning the rationale for embarking in a work they cannot complete. So many questions have been asked, since the work stopped. Is the government unhappy with NUJ and for what reason? Did anybody disturb the contractor at any level while working? What could be their reason for the abandonment? We need to know from the government to avoid undue speculations each time we visit our center.
As no work is taking place at the center, it appears the government from all indication was only interest to impress passersby and was not really ready for repairs from inception. The inside is in horrible state to behold and this is worrisome and has put the NUJ in a tight corner. To say that the project has achieved the set objective today from the outlook may be correct on the part of the government, but the truth is that the action is not complimentary given that the joy which heralded the commencement of the renovation is no more. My journalists including my humble self are not happy with this kind of development and the kind of shoddy work done so far. We thought the work will be all encompassing to make the place ideal for recreation and revenue generation for the union, but the reverse is the case.
Many do not still believe the government has finished with the center on their promise, because the dilapidated conditions of the entire inside environment is disgusting and would continue to be a big embarrassment for any member of the Senate, House of Representative and Imo House of Assembly, can come and have a look at the situation of the place now. I know the government when presenting projects they have embarked upon may include the NUJ Press Centre just to score political points. Using the Press Center to score cheap political point as doing so much for the media when nothing is happening in practical terms is a wrong thing to do by any responsive government. I challenge the government to inspect the work they will discover the inside is in shambles and nothing to write about. The roof is still leaking, the hall is inhabitable when is raining.  From a deep study on the pattern of this government it will not be out of place to suggest that from their body language, they have abandoned NUJ and it will be a miracle if they come back to finish the work. The inside of the building is one area that has given the NUJ night mare because getting money to repair the damages would be a herculean task. The union does not have money and where would they get money to fix those damages if the contractor that damage them has disappeared. The windows, ceilings, doors, toilets, beds are terribly dilapidated. The government to have concentrated only on the outside where eyes can see quickly from the entrance position is a big disservice that must be condemned. The bar was completely left out, the conference hall to all the rooms upstairs were completely left to fate and in a bad state. This is not how to help journalists.
We know that anything worth doing is worth doing well. The government by its extension of opting to helping the NUJ failed to fulfill its own part of the obligation and promise by not finishing the work and the right thing now is to send that contractor to come and repair what was destroyed in the cause of the renovation. The work done has little or no significant impact when analyzed and cannot be evaluated as having made any journalist excited. I think the handlers of the project were on instruction and never helped matters for the government or the NUJ. Coming to destroy the facility of that magnitude in the cause of renovation and abandoning it midway is a wrong way to help a union like NUJ. The contractor who came to my own assessment was the fire brigade type, ill-equipped and never a building professional. He must be one of those road side worker claiming and answering engineer. His work lacked expertise and finesse of a professional, putting to question the integrity of those that engaged them for the work with the poor finishing and unexpected disappearance at the center. Playing politics with things that concern the people of the fourth realm is one thing government should avoid in the future. I am saying this because the capacity of journalists cannot be overemphasized when it chips are down.
It is also of note that Imo State government has been criticized for not being able to sustain the general welfare of its workforce, attending to infrastructural development, Insensitivity to peoples' feeling and gross abuse of due process. If due process was implemented in the renovation of the center, I don't think anybody will play pranks on the work. The renovation has no job description or bill of quantity as supposed. The contract award process was not advertised; no scope of work to do was cited or referred.  How much was the contract? We need to know for proper evaluation and accountability of our public fund.  What we saw, were carpenters coming to remove the roof and made away with the old roof and leaving none of the old planks, zinc removed from the building. Who took those items is still baffling us. The contract was shielded in unwholesome secrecy and nobody can say the actual cost of the renovation. I am only concerned in pointing out some of these anomalies which I think should be corrected whenever such work will be done in the future. We all know that if an amount was provided to the NUJ to do the job on their own, much would have been achieved and the situation would not have been as it is now. NUJ have competent people to handle the renovation bearing in mind the area that need attention most, and even if they have to supervise the workers it would have been with a mindset to achieve a milestone in one key area of the building.
With the Press week coming up on the first week of December 2016, we need to pray for it not to rain to be able to accommodate the dignitaries that will be gracing the epoch occasion. The renovation work at NUJ press center was indeed poorly executed. The government should be magnanimous to re-visit and salvage the center at least to make it habitable. Because of the present condition, there has been relatively no patronage on lodging and the hall. The entire building is begging for renovation not minding the shine-shine outlook.

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