Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has said it was waiting for the the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) to come forward with a submission on how government could help the industry deal with the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who made the disclosure, maintained that government was ready to provide support to the print and newspaper subsector of the media industry.
Mohammed said this when he addressed State House Correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, yestsreday.
“Government has done a lot in the media, especially the broadcast industry, during this pandemic. The first thing we did was to give a waiver of two months payment of license fees to all broadcast houses between May and July, after which we gave an amnesty as 60 percent discount or debt forgiveness, for all broadcast houses, except the Pay TVs, and also slashed by 30 percent the licensing fees because of the COVID-19.
“I also met with the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, we met virtually and I’m still waiting for them to come and make their submissions.
“Definitely, the government is willing to look into the hardships and the challenges the media is facing and within our means to see how best we can intervene. I’m still waiting for the NPAN to come back to us to see what we can do to ameliorate the situation,” he said.
However, the Federal Government has described as unfortunate, the declaration of industrial action by the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), saying it was capable of reducing the gains and leading to more deaths.
It stressed that one critical element that must not be lost on Nigerians is the fact that the cautious approach has tremendously helped in the containment of the pandemic. It further warned that complacency must be avoided at all cost.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 pandemic, Boss Mustapha, said these at yesterday’s briefing in Abuja.
Health workers had declared strike starting from 11:59pm on Sunday over the inability of the Federal Government to meet their demands, an action the Federal Government described the strike as unnecessary, ill-timed and illegal.
According to Mustapha, although Nigeria continues to progressively witness declining confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a record low number of 79 cases on Sunday, it was not time to lower its guard yet.
While applauding the contribution of the health workers in the gains recorded so far, he appealed to JOHESU to call off the strike even as relevant ministries try to meet their demands.
On reopening of schools, he reiterated the call for states to be more vigilant in adhering to protocols appropriately developed with the guidance of experts.”
He said: “The PTF is aware that a number of sub-nationals have announced the re-opening of schools from this wee, while others have developed a phased plan for such re-opening. I wish to re-iterate the need for more vigilance in adhering to protocols appropriately developed with the guidance of experts. The fear of a likely spike and/or resurgence should always put us on our toes. Always remember that a number of countries including Israel have announced new stringent measures. These are warning signs for us in Nigeria and Africa.”
‘Some states not sustaining testing’
Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has expressed concern that some states were not sustaining testing even though the country is currently expressing declining positivity rates every day.
“Though we continue to record declining positivity rates everyday, we are reluctant to conclude that we are halting the spread of disease because some states have not sustained the testing rate that would give us more assurance. Only 13 states, for example, reported their figures in the past 24 hours. This can be better. Until all parts of the country can sustain a certain testing rate, it would seem presumptuous to conclude that we are flattening the curve.
He minister also joined in the appeal to JOHESU to sheathe their sword and come to the negotiation table.