Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The federal government yesterday said it was still awaiting recommendations of the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) for the government’s interventions in the print media industry.
Speaking with reporters in the State House, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said he had virtually met with newspapers’ proprietors and asked them to come up with suggestions on how the federal government could assist them in cushioning the effects of COVID-19 on the industry.
Mohammed, who recalled interventions already made by the government in the electronic media sub-sector, said the government was equally willing to assist the print media in alleviating their plights in the face of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Government has done a lot for the media, especially the broadcast industry, during this pandemic. The first thing we did was to give a waiver of two months’ payment of licence fees to all broadcast houses, between May and July, after which we gave an amnesty as 60 per cent discount or debt forgiveness, for all broadcast houses, except the Pay TVs, and also slashed by 30 per cent the licensing fees because of the COVID-19.
“I also met with the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria. We met virtually and I’m still waiting for them to come and make their submissions.
“Definitely, the government is willing to look into the hardships and the challenges the media is facing and within our means to see how best we can intervene. I’m still waiting for NPAN to come back to us to see what we can do to ameliorate the situation,” he said.
The minister also spoke on the government’s commitment to develop the creative industry, which he said comprised tourism, hospitality, music, film and broadcast productions, saying the industry possesses huge potentials for job creation.
According to him, the president had seen the dossier for the development of the industry and he’s very excited about its huge potentials.
“This government is putting a lot of emphases and promoting the creative industry, which is tourism, which is hospitality industry, which is the music industry, which is the film industry, which is publishing, which is broadcasting.
“We’ll continue to support this industry and have Mr. President’s support. He was quite excited about the portrait because he’s able to see what kind of jobs can be created through these cultural festivals,” he said.
On why he was in the State House to meet President Muhammadu Buhari, Mohammed said: “I came today to make a presentation of a portrait of the Argungu Festival to Mr. President.
“You’ll recall that sometimes in February this year, after almost ten years of hiatus, the Argungu Festival made a comeback.
“The Argungu Festival is one of the two UNESCO recognised festivals and it’s on the UNESCO list of heritage.”