By; JULIANA KATUNG, Kaduna.
The need for journalists to be active agents in the struggle for a genuine democratic society has been emphasized to enable good governance and the development of the country.
Media professionals and critical stakeholders in the country were also called upon to be at the forefront of the quest to restore the dignity of the journalism profession.
The call was made by Professor Ayo Olukotun of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State University, Ago-Iwoye during
a presentation with a theme ‘Journalists Safety and Press Freedom Limitations in Nigeria
In media roundtable and stakeholders forum organized by the International Press Centre (IPC).
According to Professor Olukotun, the media should facilitate advocacy for horizontal accountability amongst actors in governance to complement vertical accountability that has already acquired robust momentum from
platforms of the civil society..
” In the bid to sustain the clamor for genuine democracy and good governance, the media must fine-tune public advocacy that connect and resonate with actors in governance as a way of rediscovering the golden era of Nigerian media which is in tandem with defending the truth, democracy, and constitutional mandate of the journalism profession,” he further submitted.
Also in a survey report to examine the perception of about 300 journalists and editors from the print, broadcast, and online media: media scholars and non-governmental organisations, among others., on the challenges of safety of journalists and press freedom in Nigeria, indicates that a number of safety related issues are of serious concern to journalists and other media professionals.
In the report, Mr. Francis Abayomi, who is coordinated the survey said the outcome of the survey in Nigeria. “Respondents overwhelmingly affirmed that press freedom in
Nigeria is encumbered by individual and collective safety challenges for journalists with negative impacts on the journalism profession.
“The structure of media ownership in Nigeria fuels institutional encumbrances
across all categories of media organizations to the extent that commitments
of media managers to safety concerns could not be guaranteed.
“The survey evealed that unfavorable working environments which manifest in poor remuneration, delayed/unpaid salaries as well as poor welfare packages and
incentives constitute dominant concerns that aggravate insecurity in the
profession of journalism”, he reported” he said.
According to Mr. Abayomi, the key recommendations from the survey include Inter-agency collaboration between media professional bodies and
the academic to regularly review and update situations on journalists safety and press freedom.
“Regular training and retraining of journalists on safety and press freedom related issues, Setting up a safety help desk for Nigerian journalists by international Press Centre (IPC); Setting up a foundation to manage a special fund to assist
victimized journalists in overcoming the trauma of victimization”
” Institutional assistance to help journalists deploy the
instrument of FOI Act.
· Regular interface with government to highlight concerns about
press freedom; and Improved synergy of activities between media NGOs and media
professional groups to
concerns relating to safety of journalists” he noted.
Also in another report drawed from the Deliberation and Observations at the participants at the forum engaging the presentations on the outcome of a
national survey on safety of journalists the participants observed that the welfare of journalists in Nigeria has degenerated over the
decades and has worsened in recent years without concrete efforts at remedying the situation.
It added that Journalists have not demonstrated sufficient interest inhighlighting and reporting issues that directly affect their welfare and
safety individually and collectively and do not often speak up on infractions and demand respect for their protection from media establishments.
“There are huge gaps in the provisions for and enforcement of
regulations for the protection of rights of journalists and to guarantee their welfare, Journalists and professional bodies have not adequately prioritized campaigns for insurance policies to guarantee welfare at the workplace.
“There is dearth of legal and medical support for journalists who are victims of abuses and brutality; Online journalists and journalists using the social media space are
facing increasing threats from the government and security agencies in the guise of fighting fake news, hate speech and cyber terrorism” the report also added.
It further explained that Journalists face a serious challenge of deploying the instruments of freedom of information (FOI) Act for investigative purposes as a result of lack of institutional support from media establishments and poor response by government institutions.