By Innocent Ababa
The Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, has written President Muhammadu Buhari over the state of the media in the country, appealing for an urgent financial bailout to save the media industry from collapse.
NUJ National President, Mr. Chris Isiguzo, in the letter seeking financial bailout, which was also copied the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Secretary to Government of the Federation and Minister of Information, on Saturday, read: “We write to extend the highest esteem of the NUJ and the warmest consideration of its National Executive Council.
“We are constrained, once again, to write this letter to you, 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.”
In the letter asking Buhari for financial bailout for media sector, the union stressed that: “Specifically, we appeal for financial bailout for the media industry through the Nigerian Press Organisation, NPO, and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON, 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 catastrophe.
“While thanking Mr. President in anticipation, you will once more accept the assurance of our cooperation at all times.”