President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Chris Isiguzo, has decried the incessant attacks, harassments, intimidation and clampdown on journalists and urged authorities to ensure protection and safety of newsmen.
Isiguzo made the remark while speaking to News Agency of Nigeria on the International Day to End Impunity of Crimes Against Journalists on the sideline of the National Executive Council NEC meeting of the union on Sunday in Lokoja.
He said Journalists played critical roles in nation building but unfortunately they had been consistently singled out for all forms of attacks, harassments, intimidation and clampdown.
“The Amnesty International came up with a report recently in which it said that about 19 journalists had either been arrested or dumped in prison in the last 10 months.
“That is a development that is very very unfortunate, sad and unacceptable. And we will use the opportunity of this 2019 celebration to also draw government attention to the fact that Journalists must be protected,” he said.
The president said that journalists had strived to keep the nation together playing their unique role saying, “The reason the nation is still united today is because of the unique role of the media”.
“If the media had taken a very divisive role, the nation would have been reduced to tatters. We are part and parcel of the corporate entity called Nigeria and we play our unique role.
“So, the government and those in authority must appreciate this fact that we must not be singled out for dehumanisation, for incessant attacks, we must be part and parcel of the corporate entity.
“We are stakeholders just like the security operatives, the political actors the political leaders. All of us are partners in progress and we must be seen as such,” he said.
On welfare of journalists, the president said the National Secretariat of the union took the welfare of members very seriously adding that it was actually the mantra of his leadership as, “There is no unionism without welfare. If any of such exists, then it is not in union”.
He added: “Why people come together and collate into a body or an association is so that their common interests will protected. That is the primary duty or the primary reason why you form unions.
“So, its such that we will not joke with. We are taking up the issue of non-payment of salaries, we are taking up the issue of late payment of salaries, we are taking up the issue of enhanced Media package for journalists.
“Because we know that these people play unique role in the system. and we also appreciate the occupational hazards we face every other day and if we are playing this roles, even in a very tight environment, we should also be specially remunerated.
“Very soon we are going to be sponsoring a bill through some members of the National assembly on the need to have an enhanced salary package for the media. That is in the works and I believe before long the details will be made open.”