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NUJ seeks immediate recognition, payment of journalists as coronavirus front liners

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Isiguzo

The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called on the Federal Government to immediately recognise its members as front liners in the fight against the COVID-19 scourge by paying them hazard allowance and other benefits given to their counterparts in the health and security sectors without further delay.

Its National President, Chris Isiguzo, reiterated the appeal yesterday in Abuja when the union received 1000 bags of rice and 500 facemasks 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, had since assumed an economic emergency, afflicting 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. When Nigeria got locked down, health personnel, the media and security agents were outside, working round the clock,” he observed

The NUJ president however stressed that journalists had remained worst 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 get.

He added: Recently, we had a 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 organisations have shut down due to decline in patronage.”

Isiguzo insisted that asking for assistance from the government by way of bailout was not an indication that the media had sold its conscience.

Earlier, founder of the foundation, Emperor Baywood Ibe, represented by the Country Director, Chukwudi Ojielo, said the gesture was in recognition of the role of the media in the fight against the spread of the disease nationwide.

According to him, beyond the national body of the union, plans are afoot to reach out to vulnerable communities across the six geo-political zones of the country.


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