A bill to convert the Nigeria Institute of Journalism, NIJ, Lagos, to a public institution has birthed in the House of Representatives.
Sponsored by Olufemi Adebanjo representing Alimosho Federal Constituency of Lagos State, the NIJ bill has been officially introduced in the House.
It is titled "A Bill for an Act to establish the Nigeria Institute of Journalism, Lagos State, provide for the functions and for related matters, HB 1580".
Should the bill succeed in going through the gamut of law processes and passed into law, the funding of the institution would be drawn from the annual national budget.
Its funding could also come from other revenue sources, such as gifts, grants, subscription, fees and charges for services rendered.
Guild of Editors reacts
But president of Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, Mustapha Isah, in a swift reaction, last night said: "We are not aware officially about that bill. Whoever is the sponsor should, however, realize that NIJ belongs to certain groups, Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, Guild of Editors and Newspaper Proprietors' Association of Nigeria, NPAN.
"These are the owners of that school, so you cannot just wake up one day and say you want to take over the control of the school without discussing with the owners.
"With the little I have read about the proposed bill, there no even mention of the owners whatsoever and that is bad. NIJ is not an orphan so if they want to take it over, they must talk to the owners.
"Now that the bill has come to our notice, the NIJ Board would have to meet and decide the next action to take. We will certainly hold an emergency meeting to come up with a common position."
Also reacting yesterday, President of Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, Chris Isiguzo, said: "At this moment, I'm yet to peruse the said bill. To that extent, I'm not aware of the development. However, before anybody will think of taking what belongs to us, we must be part of such discussion.
"Nobody will think of taking over the NIJ and at the same time, ignore the NUJ, NGE, NPAN, that's not a possibility. I will look out for the said bill and we shall discuss same at our next National Executive Council meeting."
Ray Ekpu reacts
Also reacting, veteran journalist, Mr. Ray Ekpu said: "I have not seen the detail of the bill, so I can't comment extensively on it. My preliminary comment is that the NIJ is owned by a number of institutions and there is also an international dimension to it because the institution was started by NPAN when Lateef Jakande was its President.
"The International Press Institute, IPI, brought out the 10 pounds which was used to establish the institution. The first two provosts of the institution were actually appointed by IPI. So this is not a matter of just waking up and saying you want the government to take it over. It is not done like that. There are all forms of financial, legal and other implications involved."
However, Section 2(1) of the bill vested the powers of the institution on its Governing Council, with the power to "consider and approve the day to day and plan of activities of the institute, the programmes of study, courses and research to be undertaken by the institute, the yearly estimates of the institute and the structure and investments plan of the institute.".
Similarly, section 3 of the bill stipulates the composition of the Governing Council of the Institute of which the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, NPAN, and the Nigeria Guild of Editors, NGE, may not be part of.
It states: "The Governing Council of the Institute shall consist of a chairman and the following members to be appointed by the President.
"A representative of the Minister of Education, a representative of the alumni association of the institute, three persons appointed on individual merit on a nationwide basis who should have wide experience in the area of journalism, two representatives of the academic board of the institute, one representative of the general public and the Provost of the Institute."
While granting members of the governing council a four year renewable term of office, it makes the Minister of Education a visitor to the Institute.
In section 6(1a) of the bill, the power to accredit Diploma, Higher National Diploma and Post Graduate Diploma are vested on the National Universities Commission, NUC, rather than the National Board for Technical Education, NBTE.
The bill stated further; "For the carrying out of the functions of the Institute, the Governing Council shall have powers to undertake examination and award diplomas, professional certificates and other distinction to persons who have who have pursued a course of study approved and accredited by the National University Commission."
Section 7 of the bill also empowers the visitor to conduct visitation or appoint a visitation panel consisting of not less than five experts to evaluate the academic and administrative performance of the institute.
The bill also mandates the President to appoint the provost of the institute from among the candidates to be recommended to him from a list of applicants for the position.
On the funding of the institution, section 18 provided: "The council shall submit to the Minister through the University Commission not later than three months before the end of each financial year or at such other times as he may direct, an estimate of its revenue and expenditure for the next succeeding financial year."