By Ajiboa Abayomi,
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has urged the Federal Government to make available bail funds for the media in the country in order to avert total collapse of the sector.
The National President of the NUJ, Comrade Chris Isiguzo in a strong worded letter titled culvutions in the media industry addressed to President Muhammad Buhari catalogued challeges faced by the media particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said as much the media was crucial to the national development and orientation, at the moment media houses were sacking Journalists and closing shops owing to inability to meet operational costs and salary obligations.
Isiguzo said the asphyxiated condition had subjected media practitioners to poverty and fear stating that the fight against Covid-19 would have completely gone out of hand without inputs from the media.
Among other things, he noted that the current situation posed threat to freedom of press, expression and good governance and should be urgently addressed through special bail out fund for the private media.
Below is the full letter written by the NUJ President.
President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR
State House, Abuja.
CONVULSIONS IN THE MEDIA INDUSTRY
We write to extend the highest esteem of the Nigeria Union of Journalists and the warmest consideration of its National Executive Council.
We are constrained once again to write this letter to Mr President, appealing for urgent intervention to save the media industry from collapse.
Sir, permit us to state that, the social duties of Journalists in Nigeria include the advancement of the right to freedom of expression, access to information, freedom of the press, media independence, conflict transformation and peace building. These are prerequisites for open governance and development, the fight against corruption among others, which ultimately serve the public interest.
Your Excellency, there can be no freedom of expression and freedom of the press where Journalists work under precarious situations and are exposed to poverty and fear. Media organisations are daily being asphyxiated as a result of the economic downturn occasioned by the Covid 19 Pandemic.
Today, the role of the media in National Development has become more elaborate and clearer, more than ever before, despite the little funds available to them because of shrinking advertisements, and high cost of operations, media houses can no longer comfortably pay these costs and offset staff salaries and emoluments. It is instructive to note that without the media, the Covid 19 Crisis could have gone completely out of control by now.
Your Excellency, it is pertinent to draw your attention to these ugly developments and request for the urgent intervention of the Federal Government to arrest this dangerous trend. Specifically, we appeal for financial bailout for the media industry through the Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO) and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria for privately owned media organisations in the country.
Sir, this is a crisis situation of monumental proportion and we plead for your urgent intervention to avert a catrostophe.
While thanking Mr President in anticipation, you will once more accept the assurance of our cooperation at all times, please.
CC: (1) President of the Senate,
National Assembly, Abuja.
(2) Speaker of the House of Representatives,
National Assembly, Abuja.
(3) Secretary to the Government of the
Federation, Office of the SGF, Abuja.
(4) Minister of Information & Culture,
Ministry of Information, Abuja.