By Ajibola Abayomi,
April 22, 2018.
Journalists at the election coverage seminar organised by the Nigerian Press Council (Council) at Akure, Ondo State have urged the body to join the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to champion the welfare of media practitioners in the country.
The 3-day seminar commenced on April 19 to 21 with focus on the “responsible media coverage of elections”.
Journalists who spoke at the event though praised the NPC for showing concern about growth of democracy in the country by putting together the training programme but however noted that welfare packages and salaries of men of the fourth estate of realm was nothing to write home about.
Speaking with TheLead Online, the Chairman of NUJ, Ondo State Council, James Sowole, said the plight of media practitioners should be paramount to both the government and private own media establishments.
“The NPC should join the struggle by the NUJ to improve the welfare of Journalists because this will go a long way to improve and strengthen democratic institutions.
“Government should also consider granting waivers to facilities used by print and electronic media for their production by making importation tariff more pocket friendly through that media owners will be able to save cost and deploy the gains to better the lots of their employers.
In the same manner, the Secretary of Union in the state, Leke….. argued that NPC should sponsored a bill that criminalises non-payment of salaries of media practitioners.
“We appreciate all what NPC has been doing to train Journalists but it will not be out of place to have a media salary scale. What is obtainable at the moment is appalling.
“It is a pity that Journalists fight for others but won’t agitate for their own welfare. The NPC should be able as a matter fact champion salary structure for the media. It has happened for other sectors but who will lead the way for us? If we keep putting media at the forefront of election reportage and they are not catered, that is not good enough”.
Ajibola Abayomi, the Managing Editor of TheLead Online from the Lagos NUJ said that free and fair election reportage would remain a wishful thinking if the welfare of Journalists are not considered as priority.
“How many media houses are meeting their financial obligations and even ready to dignify their workers? Yes to responsible media coverage of the election but there should be adequate security and remuneration for the media so that they won’t be tempted to do otherwise.
“We don’t need to give the media all the money in this world. Those in charge of the election know what is right but deliberately treat media as mere errand boys but if they engage lawyers and other professionals, they are giving the due benefits.”
Fabian Anawo from Radio Nigeria said “It is very said that policy makers are still deceiving themselves. How many media houses are paying salaries except government owned and a few private establishments? I must let you know that Journalists are owned up to two years salaries areas.
“Except that I am saying it now I don’t think the communiqué at the end of this event will reflect anything that talks about improved welfare for Journalists yet we expect them to be objective reporting from hungry people. A hungry man is an angry man.”
Responding, the Executive Secretary of NPC said the body would have done much to improve Journalists welfare but series of litigations are yet to be determined by the court challenging its powers.
“There are labour laws that clearly spelt the relationship between the employers and the employees. Journalists that are wrong can take advantage of that through the Industrial Court.
“Let me also state that a bill that would have help the NPC to push better the welfare of Journalists was countered by the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and Guild of Editors. I believe in future the NPC will serve the interest of Journalists better but at the moment we urge you to shun all vices and be responsible in your reporting”.