Nigerian Guild of Editors clears air on N50m donation

Nnenna Okoronkwo

Garba Deen Muhammad, NGE President

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), has issued a statement to clarify the circumstances surrounding a N50m donation made to the NGE by the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

According to the NGE President, Garba Deen Muhammad, the clarification became necessary after the body received several calls and expressions of concern by a number of well-meaning Nigerians.

“It is regrettable that an earlier statement by the Guild on the anti-corruption war of the government of President Mohammadu Buhari may not be unconnected with recent attempts to drag the Guild into matter in which it has no case to answer whatsoever,” the NGE President stated.

Fundraising Dinner

Mr Muhammad explained that the Guild held a fundraising dinner on the 10th of April, 2014 for the purpose of building the “Editors Plaza” which would serve as the Guild’s secretariat in Abuja.

“It was a public event, attended by several dignitaries among them federal cabinet ministers, state governors and captains of industry or their representatives”, he explained further.

The NGE President said that former President Goodluck Jonathan was invited to the event and was represented by the former Minister of Information and National Orientation Mr. Labaran Maku.

“At the event, Mr. Maku, among other donors, publicly pledged N50million as the federal government’s contribution towards the building project. Indeed the announcement of this donation has been on the website of the NGE since April 12, 2014; and is still there for those who may wish to verify.

He stated that shortly after the event, the federal government redeemed its pledge by directly transferring the funds to the Zenith bank account of the NGE.

“For the avoidance of doubt, neither Mr. Femi Adesina, who was the President of the Guild at the time nor any other official of the Guild collected cash from the government as has been erroneously alleged by Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, publisher of THISDAY newspapers in a letter he sent to the EFCC and made public on Monday, January 4, 2016”. Mr Muhammad insisted.

Fund Investment

The NGE President said that the funds collected by the Guild during the fundraiser have so far been invested in two projects.

“The purchase of a property in Lagos which we have named The Editors House … located at No. 24, Mojidi Street, Off Toyin Street, Ikeja-Lagos  and paying compensation, clearing and fencing of our 5, 600 Sqm piece of land at Guzape, Abuja, which is the site of the proposed Editors Plaza.

In Lagos, we have since commissioned a team of engineers and architects for the purpose of renovating the property, a twin duplex, preparatory to our moving in hopefully in the first quarter of 2016; while in Abuja, we have already commenced the process of obtaining a building permit from the authorities of the FCT preparatory to the groundbreaking ceremony for the Editors Plaza building later in the year 2016”, he stated.

The Guild seized the opportunity to thank all those who stood by it over the years, including its founding fathers and those media organizations that took time to check the claim with the leadership of the NGE and reported their findings accurately and assured the public and all stakeholders that it would continue to remain a responsible and accountable professional group.