The Nigerian Guild of Editors says there is a need for the government to treat the media as providers of essential services critical for national development, especially in the frontline of the fight against COVID-19.
In a communiqué of its Standing Committee meeting held on Friday, April 9, 2021 in Enugu, Enugu State, the guild made a strong case for government intervention to save the media from total collapse.
Specifically, it demanded a removal of tariffs on all imported media consumables, including newsprint and broadcasting equipment, to help protect jobs and ensure the continued existence and operation of the various media houses.
The body of editors said it endorses the propriety of using public funds to finance private sector operations to save them from bankruptcy and collapse, saying that other countries, including the United States of America, had done similar things where government voted public funds to save the automobile industry, the banking sector and other sectors from insolvency during the financial crisis of 2008 and currently the $2 trillion bailout budget in 2020 for private equities amid the COVID-19 scourge.
It recalled that the Nigerian government had at various times in the past and during the COVID-19 era, voted public money as intervention funds for other sectors of the economy, including the aviation industry, which at this moment is largely private-sector driven.
“It notes, however, that the media appears to have been excluded in virtually all government interventions, through such agencies as the Central Bank and the Bank of Industry, thus leaving the media industry to trudge on like an orphan,” the communiqué stated.
The guild endorsed the position of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) and Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), both of which have made strong appeals to the Federal Government for financial intervention to ensure that the media continue to discharge its constitutional duty, stressing that the survival of the media is essential in sustaining and deepening democracy.
The communiqué also deplored the harassment and continued detention of some journalists across the nation, which it said runs contrary to freedom of the press and allied rights and privileges conferred on the media, to, at all times, be free to uphold the fundamental objectives of freedom of expression as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
It urged government at all levels to see the media as partners in development and not as competitors or meddlesome interlopers, stressing that this will help erase every form of suspicion and mistrust that have attended the relationship between governments and the media over the years.
It also implored journalists across all platforms to practise the profession with utmost responsibility, professionalism and without ill-will, malice and mischief, all of which are against the ethics of the noble profession.
It also expressed worry at the growing insecurity across the nation and urged the relevant security agencies to step up their efforts to contain the scourge.
“The guild also warned individuals and groups fanning the embers of war, hate and divisions to desist from such acts, as they serve no good but do incalculable damage to the fabric of our national existence and cohesion, “ it noted.
While congratulating the newly-decorated acting Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Usman Baba, on his appointment, the guild urged the new police chief to ensure that the war against crimes and criminality, including terrorism, kidnapping and armed robbery, is not only won but, that the victory is sustained.