The Nigerian Guild of Editors has called for the urgent intervention of the Nigerian government to save the media in Nigeria from total collapse.
The Guild made the call in a Communiqué issued at the end of its Standing Committee Meeting held via Zoom at Editors’ House, Ikeja, Lagos State.
According to the Communiqué signed by the Guild’s Administrative Secretary, Toye OLori, the Standing Committee acknowledged the dire state of the media now made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Communiqué reads, “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”.
The Guild noted that using public funds to finance private sector operations to save them from bankruptcy and a total eclipse is not new and has been adopted in other jurisdictions.
It cited the instance of the United States government, which used public funds to save the U.S. automobile industry, banking and other ailing sectors from insolvency during the financial crisis of 2008 and currently with the $2 trillion bailout for companies, amid the COVID-19 scourge.
The Guild emphasized federal government financial intervention on the ground that media services are regarded as “essential services” and hence, deserve to be treated like other essential services that play key roles on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19.
“Government intervention at this point is imperative, to ensure that the media continues to discharge its constitutional duty; survival of the media is sine-qua-non for the survival of democracy,” the body of Editors said.
It reiterated its support for the position of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) and the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), both of which have made strong appeals to the Federal Government of Nigeria for financial intervention.
The Guild noted further that the COVID-19 pandemic has 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 nation’s healthcare delivery system.
In the same vein, the Guild frowned at the sudden spike in gender-based violence, especially rape and called on law-enforcement agencies, the 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 also 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.
“Police play a major role in the course of investigation and prosecution of gender-based violence; therefore, the Police should be seen to be helpful and empathetic, not bullish and frustrating.”
While expressing dismay at stigmatization of victims of rape and allied crimes, it urged parents and guardians not to succumb to intimidation and societal scorn but to boldly speak out against such violence.
The Guild recalled the recent incidents of attack on media personnel and condemned 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.
The body of Editors described such predilection to impunity as unconstitutional, violation of individual rights and a threat to the practice of journalism and freedom of speech.