Comprehensive History of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ)


The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) was founded on March 15, 1955, in Lagos, during Nigeria’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule. The formation of the NUJ was deeply intertwined with the broader movements for Nigeria’s independence, reflecting the critical role journalists and the media played in advocating for self-governance and resisting colonial oppression.


Early Formation and Advocacy


The establishment of NUJ came amidst a wave of protest groups advocating for Nigeria’s independence. Journalists at the time were at the forefront of this struggle, using their platforms to highlight injustices and mobilize public opinion against colonial rule. This often led to persecution, hostility, and incarceration of many journalists by the colonial government.


Recognizing the need for a collective voice to address their grievances and advocate for better working conditions, a group of journalists and media professionals, led by figures such as Chief Olu Oyesanya and Comrade Mobolaji Odunewu, came together to form the NUJ. Despite many of the founding members not being core media professionals, their unified objective was to improve the conditions for journalists and uphold professional standards.


Organizational Milestones


Initial Leadership and Structure:

The initial leadership saw Comrade Mobolaji Odunewu elected as the first President and Chief Olu Oyesanya as the first Secretary. The union operated a mobile secretariat, which was located wherever the Secretary resided. This mobile nature highlighted the union’s adaptability and commitment to its cause despite logistical challenges.


Growth and Expansion:

Following Nigeria’s independence in 1960, the NUJ witnessed significant growth, particularly after the creation of new states by the military government. By 1966, 12 State Councils had been formed, demonstrating the union’s expanding influence and reach. This period also saw intensified awareness among journalists, who quickly organized into clusters to form local councils.


1977 Restructuring:

A significant milestone in the history of NUJ was the 1977 restructuring, which transformed it into a more effective trade union and professional body. This included the amendment of the NUJ constitution and the appointment of a full-time national secretary. This restructuring allowed for more efficient operations and better representation of journalists’ interests across Nigeria.


Current Structure and Operations


Permanent Secretariat:

Today, the NUJ’s permanent national secretariat is located at Plot 131, Cadastral Zone, Sector Center A, Jahi District, Abuja. This permanent site signifies the union’s established presence and continued relevance in Nigeria’s media landscape.


Organizational Hierarchy:

The NUJ operates through a well-defined organizational structure, comprising 37 State Councils, each headed by a Chairman and Secretary. Additionally, the union is divided into six zones, each managed by a Vice President and Zonal Secretary. Within media organizations, the union operates 740 Chapels (in-house unions), ensuring representation and advocacy at the grassroots level.


Affiliate Bodies:

The NUJ collaborates with several affiliate bodies, which include the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), and the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN). These affiliations allow the NUJ to address a broader range of issues affecting the journalism profession.


Activities and Programs


The NUJ is actively involved in organizing workshops, seminars, conferences, and advocacy campaigns aimed at promoting the welfare of journalists and upholding ethical standards in journalism. These activities are designed to foster professional development, press freedom, and ethical journalism.


Leadership and Membership


The leadership of NUJ, from the national level to state councils and chapels, plays a crucial role in representing members, advocating for their rights, and promoting professional development. Membership is open to journalists who meet the eligibility criteria, offering benefits such as access to professional development opportunities, networking events, and advocacy support.


Contributions to Nigeria’s Independence and Beyond


The NUJ’s history is a testament to the crucial role journalists played in Nigeria’s journey to independence. The union has continued to evolve, addressing new challenges and advancing the interests of journalists in a changing media landscape. By providing a unified voice and fostering professional standards, the NUJ remains a vital institution in Nigeria’s democratic and media framework.


The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has a rich history marked by its foundational role in Nigeria’s independence movement, its advocacy for journalists’ rights, and its ongoing efforts to promote professional and ethical standards in journalism. The union’s growth and structural evolution reflect its enduring commitment to supporting and empowering journalists across Nigeria.