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Nigerian Politics

World Press Freedom Day: Katamaran Deck Pyrates task NASS, Govt on journalists’ welfare

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World Press Freedom Day: Katamaran Deck Pyrates task NASS, Govt on journalists’ welfare

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As the global community celebrates the 2023 World Press Freedom Day, the National Association of Seadogs, popularly known as Pyrates Confraternity, has challenged the National Assembly and the Federal Government to legislate on adequate remuneration and comprehensive insurance packages for all Nigerian journalists.

The Pyrates Confraternity said this had become imperative in order to adequately promote the freedom of the press and the Nigerian journalists to carry out their constitutionally assigned duty of being watchdog of the society.

The Confraternity lamented a common situation where many media houses and publishers owe practising journalists under their employ salaries for months and sometimes, even years.

This, it said is condemnable and inimical to the freedom of the press, as the journalists are usually seriously hampered and even handicapped in carrying out their constitutional duties under such a circumstance.

Capoon of the Katamaran Deck comprising Ijebu and Remo lands with Secretariat in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, Mr Olumide Fagbohunka, made these observations in a statement to commemorate the 2023 World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday.

He noted that the shabby treatment meted to working journalists by many media owners and publishers, but which nobody wants to talk about for the fear of the owners and publishers controlling the media in Nigeria, had become worse.

Fagbohunka said it was, therefore, high time the state and Federal lawmakers as well as government at all levels came to the aid of the hapless Nigerian journalists who fight for the rights of others even in the face of their employers and governments denying them their own rights to earn decent living and practice their profession without any let or hindrance.

He noted that despite the crucial role being played by Nigerian journalists in the sustenance of democracy in the country, they’re usually still being relegated by government and the society at large, especially when it comes to their welfare and remuneration by their various employers and media houses.

The Katamaran Deck Capoon, therefore, challenged both the outgoing and incoming National Assembly members as well as the incoming administration of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to initiate deliberate policies to promote and enhance the welfare of all Nigerian journalists in order to strengthen freedom of expression, media freedom and adequate protection of all journalists.

Fagbohunka argued that Nigeria cannot continue to be an exception in a world where the mass media is increasingly being predicated on freedom of expression, freedom of information and the free press, which are fundamental to effective and functional democracy.

To guarantee all of these, he noted, the journalist who is the tool for the guarantee and protection of all other human rights of all other citizens, must be adequately remunerated and their welfare improved in line with the best global practices.

He said, “The poor remuneration and welfare packages of Nigerian journalists, which everybody seems to be shying away from talking about, should be a matter of serious concern to the government as well as the private sector employers, media owners and publishers. From investigations, there are media houses and publishers owing journalists in their employ six months to one year salaries and above.

“This situation constitutes serious threat to press freedom, as many of the affected journalists may not be courageous enough to reject bribes to pervert the truth in the course of performing their constitutionally assigned duties of being watchdogs of our society.

“It is our conviction, therefore, that governments at all levels, State and National Assemblies, should make laws that will protect journalists and ensure the regular payment of their salaries and emoluments by media owners and publishers. It’s disheartening that the Nigerian journalist, who fights to ensure and guarantee the rights of every other citizen has no one to fight for him. He has been impoverished by unscrupulous media owners and publishers due to years of unpaid salaries owed him. We believe that this has to stop in order to protect the Nigerian press and press freedom in the country.”

The Pyrates Confraternity, however, praised Nigerian journalists on this year’s World Press Freedom Day for their steadfastness, forthrightness and astuteness in the face of the various daunting challenges confronting them in the performance of their constitutionally assigned duties.

The Katamaran Deck Capoon acknowledged their immense contributions to the socio-political and economic advancement of the country.

He further commended Nigerian journalists for their crucial role in the entrenchment of democracy in Nigeria.

The United Nations declared May 3 every year as the World Press Freedom Day. It is observed annually to recognise the great efforts and contributions being made by journalists to uncover the deepest and hidden truths about society.

The theme of the 2023 World Press Freedom Day is: “Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as the Engine of other Human Rights.”

According to UNESCO, “This year marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly’s decision to proclaim International Press Freedom Day.”