The Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, have called for Federal Government’s intervention fund to avert collapse of media houses in the country.
The guild made the appeal in a communique made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.
The communique, jointly signed by the President and General Secretary of the NGE, Mustapha Isah and Mrs Mary Atolagbe, was issued after a virtual meeting of the Standing Committee of the guild.
It noted that the Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic had adversely affected all strata of the media industry, including Electronic, Print and Online publishers, in terms of revenue losses and threatening jobs.
The NGE said that federal government’s support at this point was imperative to ensure that the media continued to discharge its constitutional duty; stressing that survival of the media was inseparable with the survival of democracy.
“There is an urgent need for Nigerian government’s 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,” he said.
It noted that using public funds to finance private sector operations to save them from bankruptcy and total eclipse was not new, saying that it had been adopted in other jurisdictions.
“United States government has 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,” it stated.
The NGE underscored federal government’s financial intervention on the ground that media services were regarded as “essential services”, hence,deserved to be treated like other essential services that played key roles on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19.
“We support the position of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) and the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), both of which have made strong appeals to the federal government for financial intervention,” it said.
According to the guild, 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.
The NGE also decried 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.
The NGE reiterated its position on the penchant of some state governors to assume the role of judges in their own case by arbitrarily harassing, assaulting and detaining journalists.
It described such as predilection to impunity, describing it as unconstitutional violation of individual rights and threat to the practice of journalism and freedom of speech.
The guild therefore urged the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to set up a Special Investigation and Prosecution Team, trained and equipped to deal with gender-based violence issues.
It expressed confidence in the constitutional role of the police in the course of investigation and prosecution of gender-based violence through helpful and empathetic roles.
The NGE also called for a synergy between parents to expose the secrecy and silence of rape occasioned by perceived stigmatisation of victims of rape and allied crimes.
“Parents and guardians should not succumb to intimidation and societal scorn, but to boldly speak out against such violence,” it advised.