Mr Chris Isiguzo, the National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), says his members are committed at all times to speaking for voiceless Nigerians .
Isiguzo stated this in Ibadan when he led officers of the union on a courtesy visit to Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.
He said the visit to Oyo State was part of his team’s nationwide tour to interact, interface and reconnect with journalists across the country.
“We thought it wise to devote time with practitioners to appreciate their challenges at work places and see how we can address some of the challenges.
“We understand that this is a critical movement in the life of our nation, especially as it affects the practice of journalism, as this is not the best of times to be addressed as journalists.
” This is in looking at the array of attacks, clamp down, intimidation, harassment, victimisation and in some cases incarceration of journalists.
“We, even, have a good number of our members gunned down while doing their job and I know that most of us are gradually losing hope in the entire system.
“That is why we felt it is needful to go round the country and tell our members not to lose hope but keep hope alive, because losing hope in the entire system would spell doom for the nation, and of course, our democratisation process.
” We know the role played by us as practitioners to ensure that Nigeria won democracy in 1999 and we can not lose hope no matter the antics of desperate political actors.
” We won’t allow them to destroy this democracy, so as journalists, we must continue to discharge our responsibility as practitioners,” he stated.
He also said there were unique features of democratic governance such as respect for the rule of law and ensuring that the media enjoy unfettered access to freedom of expression as provided in the 1999 constitution.
“Once the media is put in a pigeonhole, technically, democracy has been affected.
” So that is why we are going round and mobilising Nigerians and our colleagues to keep hope alive,” he said.
Isiguzo also said the nationwide tour would give his team opportunity to collate the views of journalists and other stakeholders on the Journalism Enhancement Bill.
“Today, journalists work round the clock and are poorly remunerated at the end of the day, and so we felt there is need for us to get the necessary legislation to address this major problem, ” he said.
He expressed optimism that getting the necessary legislation would criminalise non payment of adequate renumeration for journalists.
The NUJ president commended the Makinde administration for its education and health care delivery policies and urged the governor to continue with the execution of programmes that would improve the living standards of citizens.
He, however, implored the government to expedite action on the digitisation of the state-owned radio and television stations.
In his response, the Deputy Governor, Mr Rauf Olaniyan, who received the NUJ team on behalf of Makinde, noted that journalists in the state had been playing a wonderful role.
Olaniyan further noted that journalists in the state were serving as the watchdog of democracy and urged them to sustain the tempo.
He pledged that the state government would always support the NUJ whenever called upon to do so.
” We also want you to reciprocate, not by praising us, but through neutrality and unbiased reportage,” he added.
On the digitisation of the state-owned radio and television stations, Olaniyan said that the process for the digitisation of the station was on.(NAN)