Safety concerns, impunity, greatest challenges of Nigeria journalists – Isiguzo
* As NUJ NEC meeting opens in Abia
By Steve Oko
The National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Comrade Chris Isiguzo, has identified safety concerns and impunity of state actors as greatest challenges of practicing journalists in Nigeria.
Isiguzo who stated this during the opening ceremony of NUJ National Executive Council, NEC meeting in Umuahia, Abia State noted that journalists in Nigeria were willing to discharge their duties dispassionately but regretted that the operational environment was still hostile.
He said journalists in the country still put their lives on the line in the course of duty without any appreciation, and were most times harassed by security operatives and state actors.
The NUJ boss also lamented poor welfare package for journalists , remarking that a lot of journalists especially those in private media organisations work without earning wages.
He called for an enhanced welfare package for Journalists in commensurate with the hazards of their profession.
Isiguzo also expressed wory over the degenerating insecurity in most parts of the country, and challenged the Federal Government to rise to the occasion.
According to him security of lives and property of the citizenry is the primary responsibility of any responsible government.
“Government must rise to contain the insurgency and banditary in the North East, herdsmen menace in the Middle Belt, kidnapping in South West and South East “, he said.
He also expressed shock that Abia NUJ has remained the only NUJ Council in Nigeria without a permanent secretariat.
The NUJ boss said it was unacceptable that five years after the State Government laid the foundation for the secretariat, the building had “not gone beyond the foundation level”.
He pleaded with the Abia State Government, to as a matter of priority, ensure the completion of the secretariat so that journalists in the state could operate from a condusive environment for optimum performance.
Speaking earlier, the Abia State Council Chairman, Comrade John Emejor had identified permanent secretariat as the major need of Abia NUJ.
Wawa News Global recalls that former Governor Theodore Orji had commenced the permanent secretariat project but since he left office in 2015 no new work has been done on the site.
Meanwhile during his speech at the event, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu represented by his Deputy, Sir Ude Oko Chukwu, promised that his administration would ensure the delivery of the project soon.
He pledged the continued support of his government to journalists to enable them function more effectively.
Ikpeazu also urged journalists to play up issues that would help play up ” issues that unite us together as a country, and down-play the ones that could trigger tension ,insecurity and mistrust.
The Governor thanked NUJ for the choice of Abia for the NEC meeting, and wished them happy and successful delibration.
Speaking earlier, the Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, tasked journalists on professionalism and objectivity in their reportage.
He said Abia had always provided a friendly and condusive operational environment for journalists, and called on other states to take a cue from Abia.
The Commissioner invited the state leadership of NUJ to his office for further talks on the completion of the secretariat.
Earlier in his opening remarks , Chairman of the event and former Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Pastor Ralph Egbu, tasked journalists to hold leaders accountable for the people.
He said “time has come when we must define the new Nigeria we want “, adding that the era of keeping quiet has gone.
The former Information Commissioner decried the rate of youth unemployment in the country and challenged journalists to speak up using their privileged positions.
He also posited that time had come when the press in Nigeria should be funded as the fourth estate of the realm just as the other three tiers of government are funded.
The event drew delegates from the 36 states Councils of NUJ as well as zonal leaderships of the union.
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