The Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ has made a passionate appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari for an urgent intervention on the crisis hitting the media industry. This appeal is contained in a letter to the president dated May 16,2020.
In the letter titled “CONVULSIONS IN THE MEDIA INDUSTRY” and signed by the National President of the union, Chris Isiguzo, the NUJ implored the president to “save the media industry from collapse.”
Isiguzo argued that confronted with a poverty situation and fear, journalists can no longer perform their constitutional role of ensuring open governance, development and giving strong support in the fight against corruption. He said this is compounded by further erosion of the economic power of media houses by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yet, he said that despite the challenges, the media continues to shoulder more responsibilities, including the sensitization for the pandemic, which he said would have gone out of control had the media not risen to the challenge.
If granted, the NUJ president suggested that the bailout be given through the Nigeria Press Organisation, NPO and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON.
He concluded by saying, “Sir, this is a crisis situation of monumental proportion and we plead for your urgent intervention to avert a catastrophe.”
Isiguzo sent copies of the letter to president of the Senate, speaker of the House of Representatives, secretary to the government of the federation and the minister of information.
Below is the letter
President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR
State House, Abuja.
CONVULSIONS IN THE MEDIA INDUSTRY
We write to extend the highest esteem of the Nigeria Union of Journalists and the warmest consideration of its National Executive Council.
We are constrained once again to write this letter to 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. Specifically, we appeal for financial bailout for the media industry through the Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO) and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria 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 catrostophe.
While thanking Mr President in anticipation, you will once more accept the assurance of our cooperation at all times, please.