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How private media put government on its toes, by minister


The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed

• Journalists charged on information gathering
• Kano pledges improved wages for practitioners
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has listed benefits of private media, especially private television stations to sustainable development and freedom of speech.

Speaking yesterday at the official launch of Wazobia Max, a private television station, the minister believed that the platform would afford people the opportunity to freely air their views on government performance. According to him, it will also help in curbing the unemployment situation in the country.

His words: “The beauty of the private station is that the platform enables people to air their views. It also provides people the right to know and also the right to be able to vent out your views.”

Adding that: “More importantly is the employment opportunities that are being created by private television stations and since we have rolled out our digital programme in Jos, and we are going from city to city, it will have more demand on television stations to produce more content and unleash the creative talents of the younger generation.”

The minister also described the use of Pidgin English as a revolution in the broadcast industry. According to him, it is the very language understood by everybody.

“You cannot capture certain situations in a more grammatic way in the manner Pidgin English will capture them. Pidgin English unites and binds all of us,” he said.

Welcoming his guests, the Managing Director, Wazobia Max, owners of Cool FM, Wazobia FM and Nigeria Info, Mr. Amin Moussali, said the mission statement of the station is to reach classes of people who cannot afford paid TV.

Meanwhile, the Programme Officer, Advancing Public Service Media, Dr. Paul Nwulu, has advised journalists to be information curators not creators.

Delivering a lecture yesterday on “Contemporary Issues of Press Freedom in the Digital Age,” organised by Lagos State University (LASU) to commemorate World Press Freedom Day, Nwulu said though the Nigerian constitution guarantees freedom of the press, the press is yet to reach that level of guaranteed freedom.

He urged the media to be credible by doing more of investigative reporting. The Vice Chancellor of LASU, Prof. Lanre Fagboun said the importance of celebrating the day was critical to nation building. “When you are looking at developmental goals, there is need to educate people on their right.”

Also speaking was the Dean of School of Communication, Dr. Rotimi Williams Olatunji, who highlighted some of the key problems of media practitioners to include, job insecurity, gender inequality and attacks on journalists.

The Editor of Daily Times, Mr. Abiodun Dorujaiye, regretted that government had a way of sanctioning media outfits which do not dance to their tune, adding that: “they do so by stopping advert patronage.”

Still on the media, Kano state government has pledged its readiness to effect new salary structure for journalists and practitioners in the state owned media outfits.

Commissioner for Information, Culture and Sport, Muhammed Garba, who stated this yesterday in a chart with The Guardian said government has concluded plans to improve the working condition of journalists in Kano.

Garba, who is the immediate past president of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) regretted that the move to review salaries and wages of journalists in the public sector under his leadership suffered some setback, said the effort to elevate journalists from poor remuneration and undue disparity with other civil servants most be sustained.

According Garba: “Journalists deserve well and attractive welfare because of the challenges they face on daily basis in the course of carrying out their duties. They are being intimidated, assaulted and threatened all in the name of service to the people.

“I am an advocate of better working condition for journalists not because it is my constituency, but because of the struggle of journalists in Nigeria.”

Garba, who spoke on the World Press Freedom Day said that all doors into government ministries and agencies are open to access information, adding that the Umar Ganduje-led administration would sustain harmonious working atmosphere with journalists in Kano.

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