The National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) has called for improved welfare packages for journalists to enable them to work effectively and without prejudice.
Mrs Annah Daniel, Chairperson, NAWOJ FCT Chapter, made the call on Thursday in Abuja at the inauguration of an NGO “Journalists Global Foundation (JGF)” and the maiden public lecture of the organisation and award presentation.
She said that it was now time for the government to take a look at the welfare packages of journalists and make an upward review of them in view of the critical roles the media professionals play in the society.
Daniel said that an upward review of the welfare packages of journalists was for the betterment of the society as this would enable them to continue to perform their duties diligently as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
She pledged NAWOJ’s support to Journalists Global Foundation in its desire to pursuem better welfare packages for journalists.
In a similar vein, the Director of Public Affairs, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr Abubakar Jimoh, who was the Chairman of the occasion, also spoke on the need to have good welfare packages for media professionals.
He said that the mass media was supposed to be accorded the same respect given to the legislative, executive and judiciary arms of government since it had been regarded as the Fourth Estate of the Realm even by the constitution.
According to Jimoh, the media is the watchdog of the Nigerian public, pointing out that media apparently is the mouth organ and the engine of expression for which the larger Nigerian society speaks to the government.
He said that with the media, more than 200 million Nigerians could get across their feelings, adding that the welfare package of the media should be priority since it has a constitutional role as the Fourth Estate of the Realm.
“It is our collective interest and responsibility for the masses to support the Nigerian media to be able to discharge its role.
“For a segment of the Nigerian public playing a vital role of the media in the society, they need to be supported by all. When you are talking of the executive, legislative and judiciary personnel, their welfare cannot be joked with, then why should we leave out the members of the Fourth Estate of the realm?
“The fourth leg must not suffer. It is in our interest that once the interest of the Nigerian media professionals is taken care of in terms of welfare, they will do their work selflessly, passionately and without prejudice.
“When the welfare of journalists is taken into consideration they will be able to stand up and do their work more, we must rally round to ensure that the welfare of Nigerian media is safeguarded,” he said.
He called on the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to align with other forces and pull up their strength to lead the struggle for an improved welfare package for journalists, adding that other segments of the society will support NUJ if it leads.
Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, who was a special guest advised journalists to build more skills in addition to journalism to make themselves relevant in the society.
Represented by Mr Oche Egwa, an Assistant Director on Information, Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Adesina called on journalists to move into the realm of investigative journalism.
“We are now in a digital economy and we have to accept that in everything we do including journalism. Journalism is largely built in process now by technology and so if we want to remain relevant as journalist we have to build our skills.
“Gone are the days when we sit down to write short story and give it to the editors to do their jobs, but now at least the stories you write should be so good enough that the editor doesn’t have problems with it.
Miss Chioma Amajor, President, JGF, said that she was motivated to come up with the concept of the foundation following her experience in the field of journalism.
Amajor, who is the founder and publisher of True Verdict magazine, noted that many journalists were passing through a lot in the field as a result of poor welfare packages offered them by their employers.
According to her, the aim of the foundation is to seek improved welfare journalists, adding that journalists are ridiculed in most quarters.
“Journalists also went to school to study like other professionals, the foundation is determined to change the face of journalism,” he stressed.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the programme is “Emerging Trends in Media Practice and Challenges of Professionalism, Welfare in Nigeria”.
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