By Chimezie Godfrey
The National Executive. Council (NEC) of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has urged media owners to prioritize payment of salaries of journalists working under them to avoid the negative impact it will have on the profession.
The NEC made the appeal in a communique issued at the end of the meeting of the National Executive Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists on Friday at Asaba, Delta state.
The NEC stressed that continuous payment nonpayment of journalists will impact negatively on the journalism profession.
It noted,”The continuous non payment of salaries of Journalists by some Media owners has again been reviewed by the meeting and NEC believes that this negative trend continues to impact negatively on the practice of journalism.
“Media owners who owe journalists should discharge their obligations in this respect, responsibly and as when due.
“A situation where some journalists are made to work for months without any salary is an aberration and should be condemned.”
The meeting recalled that in May last year, the NUJ wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari appealing for a bail out fund for the media, primarily because of the COVID-19 Pandemic which has affected the global economy.
The NEC therefore appealed once more to the Federal Government to urgently intervene to save the Media Industry from collapse.
It reiterated it’s earlier position that a vibrant and independent Media is germane in a democracy and as such it should be jealously guarded and protected.
The meeting which was attended by National Officers and State Councils and the FCT, deliberated on issues of the Union and State of the Nation.
The NEC discussed exhaustively on the issue of SWAN, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, and resolved that a seven Member Committee be set up to conduct fresh election for the Association within two months.
According to the resolution, the members are Mohammed She, National Treasurer, Chairman, Edward Ogude, VP Zone F, Member, Adeleye Ajayi, Chairman, Lagos Council, Member, while two members each will be selected from the contending groups.
Having taken due cognisance of the immense contributions and efforts of the National President- Chris Isiguzo and his team towards moving the Union forward despite all odds, NEC passes a Vote of Confidence on him and his Lieutenants.
On the Vote of No Confidence passed by Chairmen and Secretaries of Zone B on their Vice President, Cosmos Oni over issue of his retirement from service, NEC resolves to set up a three member Committee to determine his status of re-employment and report within two weeks to the National Secretariat.
The NEC has setup another Committee to look into the allegations against the Kwara State Council, to be headed by the Vice President of the Zone, Wilson Bako, the National Trustee, Ali Atabo and Ladi Emmanuel, National Ex Officio, as members.
On the issue of Ogun State council in which judgement was given against the Union, NEC directs that Status-quo be maintained pending the determination of the case on appeal.
The NEC condemned those members who took the laws into their hands and cautions against a repeat of such dastardly act.
In reviewing the contributions of TETfund to tertiary education over the years, the NEC commended the management of the intervention agency led by Prof Suleiman Elias Bogoro of doing an excellent job.
The NEC however appealed for injection of sufficient funds into TETfund to ensure a complete overhaul of the Nation’s tertiary education system.
The NEC believed that increase in tax collection would translate to more funds to finance projects in our tertiary institutions, thereby improving education quality.
On security challenges, the NEC urged the Federal Government to rejig the security apparatus to enable it effectively tackle these challenges, especially the insurgency in the North East, banditry and kidnappings, cattle rustling and other forms of criminality that have assumed dangerous dimensions, thereby making free movement of people, goods and services from one part of the country to another a difficult challenge.
To further strengthen the Security architecture, NEC also calls on the federal government to accede to the clamour for State Police to bolster the security system.
The meeting while looking at the challenges of banditry in the Northwest , applauds the approach of the Zamfara State Governor, Bello Muhammad Matawalle in the handling of the security situation in the State that has brought some form of respite and peace.
The NEC encouraged more of such positive engagements as a means of eradicating such heinous acts by gangs.
The Union regrets the unprovoked killing of Nigerian soldiers while on assignment to help restore peace in some warring communities in Benue State and called for proper investigation to fish out the culprits.
However, the NEC cautions against the use of excessive force in this process in order to avoid any collateral damages.
Whiling appreciating the role of security check-points on the nation’s highways in reducing crime, the NEC equally acknowledged the hardships haulage trucks and transporters face because of extortion by security personnel.
The meeting enjoined the Inspector General of Police and other agencies whose personnel are involved to address the issue in the best interest of motorists and other commuters.
The NEC tasks the Federal Government to tackle the problems of electricity supply with all the seriousness it can muster.
“The system of bulk payment to Electricity companies is callous and should be stopped without any delay.10.
“The soaring unemployment in the country is also an issue of urgent concern and NEC wants the federal government to immediately consider recruiting more workers in all the Federal Government Ministries, Agencies and Parastatals.
“And in doing so, priority should be given to junior workers and the Federal Character Principles be taken into account in the spirit of fairness, equity and national cohesion,” they stressed.
The NEC expressed worry over the high rate of inflation that has eroded the purchasing power of Nigerian citizens and thus increased their sufferings.
“NEC appeales to the Central Bank of Nigeria to urgently evolve additional measures that will limit inflation in the country.
“The Federal and State Governments should also consider providing succour to citizens especially now that the rainy season has set in.
“Federal roads in the country have completely broken down and are now death traps.
“NEC appeals for a complete overhaul of the road network in the country and urges for a speedy rehabilitation of the rail system. A situation where road accidents take more lives than communicable diseases gives cause for concern.
“NEC expresses profound gratitude to the Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa for graciously approving the request to host the NEC meeting in Asaba despite the economic realities in the country.
“It applauds the Governor for providing quality leadership in Delta State particularly in the area of infrastructure development spread across the State and the capital, Asaba,” it stated.
The NEC also commended the support of Governor Okowa towards the completion of the NUJ Press Centre Complex in Asaba.