COVID-19: NUJ demands immediate recognition, payment of journalists as front liners
The National President, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Chris Isiguzo, has called on the federal government to recognize journalists as front liners in the fight against COVID-19 by paying them hazard allowance and other benefits given to their counterparts in health and security sectors, without delay.
Isiguzo reiterated the call in Abuja when the journalists’ body received 1000 bags of rice and 500 face masks from Baywood Foundation.
He said: “I want to use this opportunity to reiterate the call we made earlier that it has become very imperative for government to do the needful by addressing the issue of poor remuneration as well as hazard allowance for journalists.”
Isiguzo noted that the pandemic which was initially considered a health emergency has fast assumed an economic emergency as it has attacked world economies.
“As a result, we have continued to ask government and good spirited individuals to extend whatsoever that is possible first to people in the front line because they also have families,” Isiguzo said.
“When Nigeria got locked down, health personnel, the media and security agents were outside, working round the clock.”
The NUJ president, however, stressed that journalists have remained worse hit by the pandemic as they neither get properly remunerated nor receive special packages from government such as the special hazard allowance and the new insurance policy, which over 5000 health workers and security agents receive.
“Recently, we had personal communication with President Muhammadu Buhari and we called for a bailout for the media because if nothing is done, you will just wake up one morning and discover that the private media organizations have shut down due to decline in patronage,” he stated.
Isiguzo insisted that asking for assistance from the government by way of bailout is not an indication that the media has sold its conscience.
He commended Baywood Foundation for acknowledging the fact that journalists are equally in the frontline of the ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Earlier, the founder, Emperor Baywood Ibe, who was represented at the forum by the Country Director, Chukwudi Ojielo, said the gesture was in line with the foundation’s recognition of the role of the media in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
According to him, beyond the national body of the union, there are plans to reach out to vulnerable communities across the six geo-political zones of the country.