By Peter Uzoho
The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has called on the federal government to extend its financial interventions to media organisations in order to save them from collapse due to the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on their revenues.
The editors explained that such funding was needed to protect jobs and ensure the continued existence and operations of the media organisations.
The editors, in a communiqué yesterday after a virtual Standing Committee’s meeting, signed by the Administrative Secretary of the NGE secretariat, Toye Olori, noted that using public funds to finance private sector operations to save them from bankruptcy and collapse was not new as it had been adopted in other jurisdictions like the United States.
According to the communiqué, “the Standing Committee acknowledges the dire state of the media, now made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, and reaches the following conclusions: there is an urgent and very compelling need for Nigerian government intervention to save the media from total collapse. The Guild specifically recommends the injection of funds by the federal government, not only to help keep media jobs but, also to ensure continued existence and operations of the various media houses, be they print, electronic or new media.
“Notes that using public funds to finance private sector operations to save them from bankruptcy and total eclipse is not new and has been adopted in other jurisdictions. It cites the instance of the United States government, which used public funds to save the U.S. automobile industry, banking and other ailing sectors from insolvency during the financial crisis of 2008 and currently with the $2 trillion bailout for companies, amid the COVID-19 scourge.”
The NGE added that the federal government’s financial intervention for the media was necessary because that media services were regarded as “essential services” and hence, deserve to be treated like other essential services that played frontline role in the fight against COVID-19.
It said the government’s intervention was imperative to ensure that the media continued to discharge its constitutional duty; stressing that survival of the media is crucial to the survival of democracy.
It backed the position of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) and the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), both of which had made strong appeals to the federal government for financial intervention.
The guild however, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the poor state of infrastructure in the nation’s health sector and urged government at all levels to apply the lessons learnt from the pandemic to fix the nation’s healthcare delivery system.
It frowned on the sudden spike in gender-based violence, especially rape, and called on law-enforcement agencies, the criminal justice system officials and other relevant bodies to consider gender-based violence as “special offences” deserving of special attention, including expedited investigations and judicial process.