The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council, on Sunday decried the neglect of journalists by government, philanthropists and media owners in their efforts to cushion effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Qasim Akinreti, the State Chairman of NUJ, expressed this concern in a statement he issued in Lagos, titled: “COVID-19: Where Are The Friends of Lagos Journalists”.
Akinreti said that journalists, like health workers, soldiers, policemen and other security agents, were on the frontline and essential service providers in the global fight against Coronavirus pandemic.
According to him, daily reports, analysis, interviews, public messages, documentaries and breaking news on Coronavirus are beamed live, broadcast at appropriate schedules via terrestrial and satellite, keeping the public informed on the global health emergency.
He added that the Coronavirus messages and information were similarly printed on the pages of newspapers, online real time and on social media platforms.
Akinreti said: “Despite these sacrifices, journalists in Lagos are hounded, harassed and disgraced by the security agencies.
“Worst still, the cry of the union to government, individuals and corporate bodies on palliatives to our vulnerable members is yet to be attended to.
“It is rather unfortunate that the people and corporate organisations have contributed to COVID-19 pandemic palliatives across the country and forget the journalists who announced and published the huge donations.”
The NUJ boss, who said he equally experienced highhandedness by security operatives, decried cases of alleged arrest and harassment of some journalists in line of duty as well as their denial to cover court trial.
He said that journalists should also be remembered in all donations to fight the COVID-19 pandemic as critical stakeholders.
“Are journalists not your friends at this time of need? Major General Tajudeen Olanrewaju, Chief Remi Makanjuola, Our senior Journalists- Chief Segun Osoba, Gbolabo Ogunsanwo, Lade Bunuola , Ayo Akinkuotu, Dr Okey Ikechukwu, Dr Reuben Abati Prince Uthman Shodipe, this is a call to action.
“What are the sins of journalists that we are not remembered at a time like this? The state governors from Lagos, Ogun, Kaduna, Kano, Rivers, Oyo, Akwa Ibom and Enugu States.
“Can’t venerable journalists benefit from your philanthropic gestures?” Akinreti asked.
According to him, the union under his leadership fed members and provided sanitisers to argument supplies in some newsrooms.
The NUJ leader added that available statistics had shown that in Lagos, some media owners had failed to pay salaries as and when due and as such did not fulfill basic economic rights of journalists.
“The question is what has the Journalist done to deserve this lack of respect to self dignity and economic right?
“Today, many journalists have become veterans of poor status and suffering in silence.
“The overall effects of these inhumanity on journalists, journalism profession and society as whole are horrendous.
“Poverty among media practitioners persists, unethical conduct is the order of the day and the voiceless in the society has to pay to be heard in whatever form,” he added.
Akinreti called on human rights lawyers, Ministries of Justice and Labour and Productivity to rise in defence of journalists being maltreated by their employers.
He also called on corporate bodies, philanthropists as well as media aides to politicians to rise in defence of journalists and journalism profession.
The NUJ boss called on conglomerates like Dangote Group, Folawiyo Group, Telecommunications, energy, oil and gas, financial giants, industrial and manufacturing companies, among others, to help distressed and poorest of poor journalists in Lagos.
He urged union members to keep and comply with all precautionary measures while carrying out their essential duties on COVID-19 pandemic. (NAN)