From LAYI OLANREWAJU, Ilorin
The Kwara State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has advocated a holistic freedom to the media in view of its role in the sustenance of the nation’s democracy and democratic institutions.
The union also called for an unhindered access to financing for the media through endowment funds to guarantee its constitutional mandate of informing and enlightening the public and as well as holding government accountable in trust for the people.
In a statement issued in Ilorin Wednesday to commemorate this year’s World Press Freedom Day, the state NUJ Chairman, Abdullateef ‘Lanre Ahmed, and Secretary, Omotayo Ayanda, respectively identified unavailability of funding as one of factors hampering effective journalism practice in the country.
The NUJ noted that many media outfits are still reeling out of the financial constraints imposed on them as a result of the outbreak of Covid-19, which in turn led to the downsizing of their workforce.
It recalled that the adverse effects of the dread disease, including total lockdown, caused downward review of salaries of Journalists in a number of media organizations with manifestation on basic obligations of Journalists to their families.
The union maintained that the setting up of endowment funds had become imperative to ensure total adherence to the ethics of media profession in gathering, writing and reporting unlike the currency of citizen journalism with active connivance of modern technology.
The state NUJ appealed to media owners to prioritize regular training and adequately equip Journalists in their organizations with requisite gadgets to help in combating the preponderance of fake news.
It called for faithful implementation of Freedom of Information (FOI) act at all levels of governance, saying that it would enable professional journalists to dutifully discharge their responsibility and hold operators of levers of government accountable.
The NUJ also advocated safety and protection of Journalists, decrying the incessant assaults and killings targeted at them in line of duty.
The union said partly, “Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is incontrovertible about the place and importance of press, which expressly posits that press shall be free at all times with its primary role of holding government accountable.
“This therefore presupposes that media is bridging the obvious gap between the government and the governed. In view of its role as an institution in the sustenance of democracy and democratic institutions, there is urgent need for setting up of an endowment fund to help cushion the adverse effects of Covid-19 pandemic and also ensure a holistic freedom for it beyond frequent lip service on the part of operators of government.
“It is also imperative to emphasize that as we are marking world press freedom day, media owners should give preference to adequate remuneration of Journalists in their organizations. This we believe, would boost their morale, especially in the discharge of their constitutional duty”.