Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has sent an urgent appeal to the Federal Government to inject funds into the country’s media industry to save it from collapse and “ensure continued existence and operations of the various media houses, be they print, electronic or new media.”
It supported the position of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) and Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), both of which have made strong appeals to the Federal Government for financial intervention.
The NGE made these and other requests in a communiqué by Toye OLori, its Administrative Secretary after the Standing Committee Meeting of the Guild held via Zoom on Thursday, June 4, at Editors’ House, Ikeja, Lagos State.
“There is an urgent and very compelling need for Nigerian government intervention to save the media from total collapse. The Guild specifically recommends the injection of funds by the Federal Government, not only to help keep media jobs, but also to ensure continued existence and operations of the various media houses, be they print, electronic or new media.”
According to the Guild, the government’s financial intervention had become necessary because media services are “essential services” and hence, deserve to be treated like other essential services that played key roles on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19.
Lamenting that the dire state of the media in the country has been worsened by COVID-19 pandemic, the board of editors said government’s intervention had become imperative to ensure the industry remains afloat.
“Government intervention at this point is imperative, to ensure that the media continues to discharge its constitutional duty. The survival of the media is sine qua non for the survival of democracy.”
The Guild said that using public funds to finance private sector operations to save them from bankruptcy and total eclipse is not new, and cited the instance of the United States government, which used public funds to save its automobile industry, banking and other ailing sectors from insolvency during the financial crisis of 2008 and currently rolled out $2 trillion bailout for companies, amid the COVID-19 scourge.
It said the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the poor state of infrastructure in the nation’s health sector and urged governments at all levels to apply the lessons learnt from the pandemic to fix the country’s healthcare delivery system.
In a related development, the Guild frowned at the sudden spike in gender-based violence, especially rape and called on law-enforcement agencies, criminal justice system officials and other relevant bodies to consider gender-based violence as ‘special offences’ deserving of special attention, including expedited investigations and judicial process.
It urged the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to set up a Special Investigation and Prosecution Team, trained and primed to deal with gender-based issues.
The Guild said the Police play a major role in investigation and prosecution of gender-based violence and urged them “to be helpful and empathetic, not bullish and frustrating”in the course of investigating gender based violence cases.
It condemned cases of stigmatisation of victims of rape and allied crimes, and urged parents and guardians not to succumb to intimidation and societal scorn, but to boldly speak out against such violence.
The Guild condemned recent attack on media personnel and the penchant of some State Governors “to assume the role of judges in their own case, by arbitrarily harassing, assaulting and in some cases, detaining journalists.”