Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
As journalists in Abia State continue to brave the odds associated with doing their jobs under the COVID-19 pandemic, some press friendly personalities have come to their aid by providing palliatives. The assistance came in cash and in kind.
The immediate past senator that represented Abia North district, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa took the lead on Tuesday by donating N200,000 cash to the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ Abia State Council, as well as the Abia State Online Media Practitioners.
The member representing Arochukwu/Ohafia federal constituency, Hon Uko Nkole also followed suit with N150,000 cash and 25 bags of rice for both the Correspondents and Online practitioners. There was
Ohuabunwa made his donation through the director general of Follow Better Organisation (his political structure), Dr Ndubuisi Eke. He sympathised with journalists in their struggles to make ends meet while doing their jobs in a very harsh economic environment, saying that they deserved “serious support at this time”.
He acknowledged the enormity of the risks that media people face on daily basis as they serve the society that often don’t appreciate their sacrifices.
In view of the even greater risks that journalists take in performing their duties in this deadly Covid-19 environment, the former Speaker, ECOWAS Parliament , advocated special Covid -19 allowance for practising journalists nation wide. He noted that this category of workers have decided to put their lives on the line to bring reports and updates on the global pandemic.
“Coronavirus does not discriminate as you can see that one of your colleagues in Kano is already a victim, and another one in Adamawa is also infected. Please, I want you to stay safe and strictly adhere to the necessary protocols including social distancing for the sake of your families,” Ohuabunwa said.
He therefore appealed to both the federal and state governments as well as public -spirited individuals to meaningfully assist journalists in a time like this, adding that on his part he would always identify with “this wonderful people any time, any day”.
The former Abia North Senator charged journalists to sustain their heroic efforts in the fight against Coronavirus while observing the prescribed health protocols.
Rep Nkole handed over the palliatives to the leaderships of both the Correspondents Chapel and Online Media practitioners at his Abam country home in Arochukwu local government. He said that the gesture was in consonance with his vow to serve humanity in politics.
According to him, his prayer has always been that God should remove him from position of authority any day he stopped rendering help to humanity. Nkole, who is in his second tenure at the National Assembly, said he was touched by the fate of journalists in Nigeria of today, noting that they sacrifice so much for society without commensurate reward.
He stated that it is a noble ideal to assist people when one has the capacity to do so. The federal lawmaker recalled his own humble beginning and how he hawked processed bitter leaves on market days in the early stage of his life before God brought him to his present position where he can afford to help others.
“I know what people on the street are passing through because I was once there, and that has reinforced my passion to help out, ” he said.
He advised journalists not to indulge in self pity but should rather strive hard to sustain their efforts in keeping the society abreast of the global happenings including sensitising and educating people about the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nkole specially lauded Abia journalists for their complementary roles in projecting the efforts of the Okezie Ikpeazu administration in promoting made -in Abia products.
Earlier the former Editor of Leadership Newspapers, James Ume had donated 100 bags of rice and 200 cartons of Indomie noodles to the Abia State Council of NUJ.
Both the Chairman of Correspondents Chapel, Comrade Obinna Ibe; and his Abia Online Media Practitioners counterpart, Ugochukwu Nwankwo, thanked Ohuabunwa and Nkole for identifying with Abia journalists at this difficult period.
Ibe noted that Ohuabunwa at all times demonstrated his respect and recognition for journalists, and urged other politicians to borrow a leaf from him.
“This is the time to show that you truly love journalists not only when you need us but now that Covid -19 has made life very challenging for everybody,” Ibe told politicians.
He lamented the plight of Correspondents in the state, pointing out that most of them are not being paid any salary by media organisations they work for and even those on salary have not been paid for many years.
“I therefore wish to use this opportunity to appeal to government and people with the capacity to come to the rescue of journalists in Abia.
“We put our lives on the line daily without any insurance or assistance from any quarters. It’s our passion for the job that is propelling us but we have families, dependants and responsibilities waiting for us at home,” the Correspondents chairman said.