Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, on Tuesday lamented lack of care for the well being of Nigerian journalists and likened their conditions to those of wheel barrows.
Dalung, who made this lamentation when he paid a condolence visit to State House correspondents over the loss of their colleague, Chukwuma Onuekwusi of Channels Television, recalled the patriotic role of the press during the pro-democracy struggle. According to him, a typical Nigerian journalist is like a wheel barrow that is often abandoned after use only to be remembered and dusted when heâ€™s needed again.
He blamed non-accommodation of journalists in the current democratic experiment for the trend and called for the enactment of laws that would guarantee a meaningful reward system for journalists.
â€œLooking at the role journalists play even in entrenching this democracy, I donâ€™t think and believe that they had actually been accommodated within the structure which they sought to build. I believe that the absence of journalists in the present democratic experiment is also one of the major factors why we have not appreciated them much. â€œAnybody who participated in the struggle for democracy in this country would know the roles journalists played. Many lost their lives in the struggle but unfortunately, when democracy finally came, what has actually become of journalism is the Wheel barrow theory.
â€œThe wheel-barrow is a very important tool that has no garage. It is kept in the sun and under the rain but when there is the need for you to convey any bag of either garri or rice, you rush, you dust it and use it and return it to where you kept it. â€œIt is unfortunate! We need to begin to appreciate contributions in this country before we will take our bearing properly. Our reward system is fundamentally faulty.
â€œSo, what is left of journalism is well, you build a lot of enmity in terms of trying to file reports because for you to be objective and report events, you are going to build also a profile of enmity in a country where people do not appreciate being truthful.
â€œAt the end of the day, when you phase out as Chukwuma has done, we are only now left with story telling. The State House chapel here and the Nigerian Union of Journalists will now be left as the final constituency to be responsible for his family care and his little kids and how long can they go?
â€œSo, I am of the opinion that we must look at our laws and entrench a very solid reward system to guarantee contributions of key actors like journalists,â€ he said.