Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has appealed to the Federal Government for an urgent intervention to save the Nigerian media industry which is going through tough times, from collapse.
In a letter addressed directly to the President, Muhammadu Buhari, the union requested for urgent intervention of Federal Government to arrest the unfortunate trend considering the role of the media in nation building.
Specifically, the union in the letter signed by its president, Chris Isiguzo appealed for financial bailout for the media industry through the Nigerian Press Organisation, NPO, and Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON for the privately owned media organisations in the country. The letter did not state any figure required for the industry bailout.
Many of the media organisations in Nigeria are experiencing hard times, high operational cost with many months of unpaid salaries occasioned by difficult economic environment exacerbated by Covid-19.
NUJ told President Buhari that “this is a crisis situation of monumental proportion and “we plead for your urgent intervention to avert a catastrophe”.
In the letter, the union reminded President Buhari that 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 advertisement, cost of operation, 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 could have gone completely out of control by now,” the letter entitled ‘Convulsions in the media industry’ and dated May 13, 2020, said.
The letter expatiated that the social duties of journalists in Nigeria include the advancement of the right to freedom of expression, access to information, 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”
According to the letter, 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,” the letter said.