The Federal Government has been lauded for the COVID-19 stimulus package being initiated for the Nigerian media and the creative industry.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also received a pat on the back for the expected intervention.
Mr Femi Soneye, the Publisher and CEO of Persecondnews.com, gave the commendation in Abeokuta on Monday at the presentation of some COVID-19 items to the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ogun State Council at the Press Centre -“Iwe Irohin House’’.
“A recent bold step to give a stimulus package to the media and creative industry by the Hon. Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, is cheery news and a timely intervention amid COVID-19 pandemic.
“We urge the minister to pursue this agenda to a logical conclusion,’’ said Soneye, who was represented by Mr Ayodele Akinsola, Persecondnews Managing Editor.
Describing the media as one of the tripod stands on which the nation’s democracy rests, thrives and flourishes, he urged journalists not to spare any effort in holding public officials accountable to the people.
He, however, pointed out that only accurate and factual reports could hold the public officials accountable.
“Journalists as members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm after the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary are empowered by Section 22 of Chapter two of the 1999 Constitution.
“Without free press and free speech democracy is endangered. I recall with nostalgia our efforts and struggles on a heroic scale to fight the military to a standstill and return the country to constitutional democracy in 1999 have not been adequately rewarded and reciprocated by the political class with some of them scandalously harassing, brutalizing and clamping down on the media,’’ Soneye said.
Still expounding the role of the media, the publisher said: “The media, in spite of its imperfections like democracy, are indispensable to the nation’s fledgling democracy of about 21 years and to the Nigeria Project.’’
On the state of the Nigerian media, Soneye noted that the parlous state of the economy had caused thousands of journalists to lose their jobs due to permanent shutdown of their organizations while others are being owed one or two years salaries.
“I wish, therefore, to make a passionate appeal to those in authority at all levels – federal, state and local government – to patronize the media – newspapers, magazines, online publications, radio and television stations – to stay afloat.’’
On the COVID-19 pandemic, Soneye commended the media for their excellent coverage of the health crisis across the country in spite of the attendant risks to the lives and urged them to continue to join forces with the government to rout the virus.
“As experts and WHO have said, it is unlikely for the virus to go away soon. There is, therefore, the need for us as journalists to be COVID-19 protocol-compliant — stay safe, play safe, observe physical distancing, use your face mask, wash your hands and use sanitizers.’’
He also challenged journalists to report research findings and investigations on COVID-19 therapeutics especially the local cure – herbal or orthodox – to defeat the virus.
Mr Wale Oluokun, the Secretary of the caretaker committee of the NUJ, who received the items on behalf of the chairperson, Mrs Omolola Adeyinka and the executive committee, thanked Persecondnews for the gesture which he described the first of its kind.
“It is quite novel and welcoming that journalists can look back and give back to the profession; it is equally commendable.
“Apart from the gifts, a strong message has been passed to us to take the fight against coronavirus seriously,’’ he said.
Among the officers present at the presentation were Mr Lekan Yinusa (Sweet FM) and Mr Bidemi Bello (Channels TV), Anthony Gandonu and Bunmi Adigun.