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Nigerian media must be self-regulated to be democratically efficient, says Saraki

By Mayowa Okekale, Abuja on 22/12/2015

Views: 2,749

The Senate President, Dr Abubakar ‘Bukola Saraki, has assured Nigerians that he would not give room for the government to regulate the activities of the media, saying that he strongly believes in a self-regulated media.

Saraki disclosed this while receiving the National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Alhaji Waheed Odusile, and members of the National Executive Committee (NEC), on a visit to the National Assembly. He however noted that the 8th Senate would support all programmes of the NUJ aimed at repositioning the media to perform its constitutional duties more responsibly.

 His words: “The things you have said this afternoon are the things that are very important and must be addressed if we are serious about the role that the press plays in our society. The change we want to bring to the country is not just on the economic or social aspect, but even in the moral and ethical structure of our democracy, and the press has a key role to play. That is why journalists must put their houses in order so that the role would be effectively played by them.”

The Senate president noted: “For the first time, I am hearing an NUJ president saying that they have problems which we have always known that you did, but nobody was ready to say you had problems. The first thing you talked about is for a law to recognise that journalism is a profession. You are, indeed, professionals. But unfortunately, as you said, many people have joined this profession and in the process they have done more harm than good to the profession.” 

While stressing the need for sanity in media practice and importance of passing laws that would create a better practice for journalism in Nigeria, Saraki said: “In my own profession, if you are a quack doctor, you cannot last because the system would get rid of you. But it is unfortunate that in your profession the quacks even last more. What are those laws that we need to pass to make the press more efficient? I am happy with what you said that there must be laws to help journalists to regulate journalism practice, and I want to say one thing: I will not support any government regulation.”

He explained further: “I think you should be self-regulated. I agree with you entirely that we must have those laws that will provide that enabling environment for self-regulation and also to ensure that only professionals come into your profession, and not anybody that is looking for money.”

The Senate president urged the NUJ to quickly forward a comprehensive proposal on the areas they want the National Assembly to legislate upon.

Earlier, Odusile told the Dr Saraki that the visit was meant to brief the leadership of the Senate on the activities of the NUJ, since the new executive was elected in July, adding that it was equally meant to seek the support of the Senate for a new legislation to professionalise the journalism profession and also empower the NUJ to regulate the practice of journalism in the country.

He said such measures have become necessary to ensure that media practice in Nigeria is accorded its rightful place and that journalists are given their due in the scheme of things, to enable them carry out their constitutional mandate.  

He added: “We are not entirely satisfied with the way journalism is being practised in Nigeria because of some of the constraints we have, one of which is that today, there is no law in this country that recognises journalism as a profession. Today, journalism in the country is an open-ended affair, as such, anybody who can speak English, good or bad, can come in and go out at will. This state of affairs has bred quacks, which has become a problem to us. But because we lack the requisite laws, we find it difficult to regulate the profession and to be able to flush out the quacks.” 

He noted that the leadership of the NUJ is putting up a bill that will address the anomaly bedeviling the profession, when passed into law. 

Odusile averred: “Once the bill is ready in the first quarter of next year, the NUJ will partner with the National Assembly to ensure that it is expeditiously considered and passed. We are desirous of eliminating quacks from the practice of journalism in Nigeria, but we are powerless without the enabling laws.”

Alhaji Odusile decried the impunity of media house owners where journalists are owed backlog of salaries without any repercussion; and therefore called on the National Assembly to initiate laws that would provide for a salary structure for workers in the media, as applicable to the medical, teaching and other professionals in the civil service. He equally charged the lawmakers 

to ensure that any aspect of the ‘Frivolous Petitions Bill’ that will attempt to gag the press is expunged before its passage into law. 

•Photo shows Saraki.

Source News Express

Posted 22/12/2015 7:51:42 PM





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