NUJ drags debtor media owners to confab
NUJ drags debtor media owners to confab
.Seeks legislation against salary debts
By Dupe Olaoye-Osinkolu
Alarmed by the trending debt profile of majority of Nigerian media owners, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has tabled the salary arrears issue before delegates at its just concluded maiden National Media Summit.
The confab held in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital was declared open by The Executive Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun,.
Addressing hundreds of delegates including practicing and veteran journalists from across the country, former Ministers of Information, law makers and government functionaries, the NUJ President, Alhaji Abdul Waheed Odusile lamented the inability of media owners to shoulder their responsibilities in the area of staff welfare.
He observed that the operating environment is hostile for the media and that the Federal Government policy on government advertisement will further compound the problem.
He added that the travails of the media organizations having rubbed off on journalists make them vulnerable to corruption.
“Just as the media houses are struggling, the fortune of journalists is not improving either. Many media owners are defaulting in the payment of salaries to their workers, with some in arrears of one year and above. As a union, the NUJ has fought to force some of these debtor media owners to pay their workers while a few are still recalcitrant. While we continue to fight for the rights and welfare of our members, we would like to draw the attention of the general public, including the government to the dangers posed to the society especially this democracy by the ungodly act of these media owners.”
“A journalist not paid by his employer for months is hungry and vulnerable to corruption and therefore, is a danger to the society. He could call black…white depending on what is on offer. Make no mistake about it, this is unethical and the NUJ as a responsible professional body frowns at it, but our jobs are being made difficult by these debtor employers.”
Wondering how best to tackle debtor employers, especially in the media, Odusile called on the National Assembly not to toy with the bill to prevent owing of salaries, earlier thrown out for fine tuning and re-presentation, when it is brought back for consideration. He seeks accelerated treatment for the bill whenever it is re-introduced as it could be the needed succor to protect jobs and future of Nigerian workers.
The NUJ President also appeals to governments at all levels to create enabling environment or jobs creation.
“Government at all levels must create a conducive environment for job creation, so that many of the unemployed could be gainfully employed. President Muhammadu Buhari must devote more time and effort towards reviving our economy, Nigerians are suffering.” He said
Declaring the conference open, Governor Amosun commended journalists for the watchdog role they play in the society. He however warned them to always uphold the ethics of their profession, and not allow themselves to be used against the good of the country.
He also cautioned online journalists and bloggers on professionalism. He said he regards the social media as ‘Weapon of National Development’ (WND) if it is professionally handled, ‘Weapon of National Destruction’ (WND) if it is used unethically.
The conference in a ten-point communique advocates for the reduction or possible removal of tariffs on printing equipment, tools, newsprint and other printing materials, also chemicals to sustain the newspaper industry. It also seeks eradication of disparity in the payment of licence fees by the broadcast media. “A situation where private media stations are made to pay more than Government owned media establishments is no longer tenable.”
The Conference viewed that when media organization are sustained to survive, practitioners and the media would be encouraged to subscribe to national development and national security.