Every 3rd of May is a date set aside by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to celebrate the Fundamental Principles of Press Freedom, Paying Tribute to Journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their Profession and remind Governments of their duties to respect and uphold the Right to Freedom of Expression as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It will be recalled that in the year 2019, the Kwara State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) commemorated the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) with a theme “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation”. The event provided opportunities for Journalists, Civil Society Organizations, Political Gladiators, Academicians and the broader public to discuss emerging challenges to Press Freedom and Journalists’ safety and possibly identifying solutions.
However, in light of the coronavirus outbreak, we could not mark last year World Press Freedom Day Celebration. Our main concern is to guarantee the health of everyone that will be involved within the state and beyond.
As we celebrate this year’s World Press Freedom Day with a theme: ‘INFORMATION AS A PUBLIC GOOD’, it should act as a reminder to governments on the need to respect their commitment to Press Freedom and a reflection among media professionals about issues of Press Freedom and Professional Ethics. Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of Support for Media which are the target of harassment, attacks, detention and even murdered in the course of carrying out our duties.
Also, it serves as a call to affirm the importance of cherishing information as a public good, and exploring what can be done in the production, distribution and reception of content to strengthen journalism, and to advance transparency and empowerment while leaving no one behind. This year’s theme is of urgent relevance to all countries across the world. It recognizes the changing communications system that is impacting on our health, our human rights, democracies and sustainable development.
Our resource persons will underline the importance of information within this new ecosystem, WPFD 2021 three key topics:
- Steps to ensure the economic viability of news media;
- Mechanisms for ensuring transparency of Internet companies;
- Enhanced Media and Information Literacy (MIL) capacities that enable people to recognize and value, as well as defend and demand, journalism as a vital part of information as a public good.
Likewise, award of recognition will be given to those who have contributed to the growth of Journalism in the state and those who have lost their lives in the exercise of their Professional duties.
As we mark this year Press Freedom Day we want to call on all and sundry to take action to secure Independent Journalism. This call is to everyone who has a role to play, including Governments, Labour Leaders, Legal Sector, Civil Society and Academia to see to the successes in enhancing Professional Journalism and its foundation on Independent News Media Institutions.
As the world is battling with COVID-19 pandemic, the leadership of Kwara State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists is calling on government, media owners and relevant groups to provide protective gears. Truly, our services are very essential at this period, the public look on to us for information on this global pandemic. We therefore caution our members to observe all safety and precautionary measures needed to avoid spreading the pandemic.
While the media is expected to play a vanguard role in the quest for genuine democracy, the working condition of media professionals is pathetic. Regrettably, Journalists work without adequate remuneration, poor working environment and lack of adequate equipment.
On this note we want to graciously appeal to the Kwara State Government not to be tired of adequately funding the three Government’s owned Media Houses (The Herald Newspaper, Radio Kwara and Kwara TV). If the Media houses were in good shape they will not only promote Government Policy but will also serve as source of Internally Generated Revenue for the Government.
The Union is worry at the alarming dimension of fake news on our social media which fuels religious, ethnic, cultural crisis and even panic in our society. As professional Journalists we owe it a duty to stand against this identified horrible phenomenon.
As professionals we must stand out and discourage social media actors who fuel the spread of fake news with the sole intent of destroying the very fabric that holds us together as a people. We wish to acknowledge the positive roles being played by the Kwara NUJ Anti-Quackery committee curbing fake news. To this end, the State NUJ launched its website, www.kwaranuj.org.ng and activated its social media platforms to tackle the menace of face news and hate speeches. This is the era of developmental Journalism and all of us must stand up and rise to the occasion.
We also call on the state government to institute a life assurance policy for Journalists practicing in the state.
The Council, however, commended the State Governor, Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq for providing the enabling environment for media profession to strive in the state and for renovating our Secretariat.
We acknowledge palliatives donated to Journalists in the state by the State Government to cushion the effect of lockdown on Journalists in the state. Likewise, the training orgainsed for our members covering the outbreak of coronavirus by the Kwara State Government. The Kwara NUJ has also benefited from the Kwara State Taskforce on COVID-19.
Equally, we thank the state government for providing hand sanitizers to support them to be safe Journalists while on duty in this coronavirus pandemic era and the support His Excellency gave to the Union during the official visit of the NUJ National President, Chief Chris Isiguzo to Kwara State. These will go a long way in strengthening the good relationship between the government and the media practitioners in Kwara State.
The Kwara State Council of NUJ will pledged to continue to support your Excellency by adequately reporting programmes and policies of your administration as and when due.
Thank You and God Bless.
Mall. Umar Abdulwahab Deacon Omotayo Ayanda
Council Chairman Council Secretary