Director of International Press Centre (IPC), Mr Lanre Arogundade, has called on the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE) to prevail on private media owners towards ensuring that journalists in their organisations are insured.
Arogundade spoke, on Thursday, at a one-day media expert meeting on safety of journalists and emerging issue in conflicts in Nigeria organised by the organisation in conjunction with the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) in Abuja.
He said that the welfare of the journalists cannot be taken in isolation of the issue of their safety.
“This is so because no matter how safety conscious you are, you can still run into problem. But what happens to you? What happens to your relatives? So one of the things IPC will like to drive forward is that they should now see the issue of the welfare of journalists in a very broad sphere. And apart from the insurance that the NUJ has put in place, the NUJ, the Guild of Editors must now insist that every media owner, every media proprietor must insure their employee against any danger,” he said.
He described as unacceptable to journalistic profession the poor welfare package of journalists in the country.
“A journalist that is well paid, a journalist that knows that if he or she suffers some consequences, he will get adequate compensation will be willing to do that work and become professional. So I think it is something that we cannot debate at all,” the director said.
Arogundade noted that though the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has commenced an insurance scheme, many journalists are yet to subscribed to the scheme.
On his part, the former Executive Secretary, Nigeria Press Council, Mr Bayo Atoyebi, who called on private-media owners to ensure that journalists in their organisations are insured, urged media practitioners too to key into the NUJ’s insurance scheme.
In her welcome address, the Programme Officer of IPC, Stella Nwofia, said the workshop became imperative taking cognizance of the attacks on journalists in the country.
She said the experts’ meeting was being convened as part of a project on safety of journalists and conflicts in with the objective to conduct an assessment that would provide a baseline information on safety of journalists in Nigeria especially in the context of UNESCO’s Journalists’ Safety Indicator at the national level so as to facilitate an intervention plan by UNESCO, its partners and other interested stakeholders.
As you know ever since the Federal Government passed the freedom of information act which should enable the journalists obtain information from the government without molestation the reverse however has been the case.
Nwofia noted that from the IPC monitoring of the nine newspapers, it was documented that a total of 47 journalists were attacked between the months of November 2014 and April 2015.