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Addressing National Issues: NUJ Meets VP Osinbajo

Everyevery.ng gained access to a speech delivered by the President, Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Chris Isiguzo, during a courtesy call on His Excellency, Vice President Professor Yomi Osinbajo, to address various national issues bothering the Nigeria.

NUJ’s Speech

Nuj
Chris Osiguzo
  1. NUJ President Speaks: Let me start by thanking Your Excellency for the honour accorded us with this visit which granted me the privilege and honour to lead these distinguished leaders of the fourth estate of the realm on this auspicious visit to your exalted office.
  2. Permit me, sir, to seize this opportunity of this visit to commend the evolution of the Innovation Fellowship for Aspiring Inventors and Researchers, i-FAIR, an initiative of Your Excellency’s office in collaboration with the State of Israel. We see this six-month programme as a unique opportunity for Nigerians to transform their ideas into inventions with the mentoring of renowned experts in the Israeli and Nigerian innovation ecosystem. This programme, we pray, will go a long way in empowering the youths and generating the desired employment opportunities.
  3. We also commend the renewed determination by the Federal Government to end the protracted insecurity challenges ravaging some parts of the Country, especially the insurgency in the North East and banditry, kidnapping in the North West and other acts of criminality that constitute a threat to the development of our nation.
  4. We equally commend the courage and professionalism of our Armed Forces. We, therefore, appeal to Nigerians to unite against terrorism and other acts of insecurity rather than resorting to issues of politics that may not have any positive bearing in the fight against these evils.
  5. We appreciate the fact that the Government has adopted new approaches that will tackle insecurity in the Country and urge further that additional strategies be adopted to address the specific political, economic, and social challenges that encourage these security problems in general and the potential solutions that reduce them as the most reliable way forward.
  6. While we encourage the Government to listen to suggestions from well-meaning citizens who provide credible and workable alternative options in dealing with the devastating security situation, we similarly urge the Government to be tolerant in dealing with the anger and frustration of the citizens.
  7. Although the Country has witnessed a blessed rainy season, it is worrisome that agricultural activities have been adversely affected in many different ways and many parts of the Country because of insecurity. Many citizens have been displaced, and this has heightened the risk of food insecurity. We believe Government is taking steps to ameliorate the suffering of displaced persons and other persons so affected.
  8. On our part, the NUJ is engaging in training and retraining of Journalists with assistance from various development partners to build the capacity of journalists to effectively bring to public attention humanitarian situations in the Country fairly, honestly, and constructively.
  9. The significance of the media as an effective tool for solving security challenges in the Country cannot be wished away. In this regard, we frown at the various comments of some highly placed Government officials that accuse the media of over-blowing security challenges in the Country before the international community. We caution that lack of adequate information can, at any stage of a conflict, make people desperate, restless and easy to manipulate.
  10. While we call on Journalists to be careful not to be tempted into propagating fake news by ensuring proper and adequate checks before stories are written and transmitted for public consumption, we insist that Leaders should be held accountable to the people by the media through objective criticisms devoid of any sentiments and bias. This is the only way we can help sustain our democracy. Distracting leaders from acts of Governance through such frivolities and fake news hate speeches will not auger well for the Country. Certainly, blaming the media for the Government’s inability to contain insecurity and other developmental issues is wrong and very unhelpful.
  11. Having said these, may I now intimate Your Excellency that as the lifespan of the first tenure of my administration as President of the NUJ reaches its crescendo, the NUJ being the parent body of Journalists in the Country has done everything possible to protect the democratic tenets in our dear nation.
  12. Apart from adopting Alternative Disputes Resolution in resolving many of the thorny issues in the media industry as against industrial actions or picketing of organisations, we have successfully evolved and adopted better and more effective measures through a pragmatic and democratic approach that has translated to more results.
  13. It is our determination that by the grace of God Almighty, when I get re-elected for a second term at our 7th Triennial National Delegates Conference scheduled to take place in Umuahia, Abia State, from October 5th to 7th, 2021, the NUJ will continue to protect the interests of Nigeria and Nigerians through the trilogy functions of the media as well as using the media space to set agenda for our great Country.
  14. Your Excellency, I want to bring it to your attention that the unfortunate outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating effect on the Nigerian media which was one of the worst-hit sectors in the Country, with many of our members losing their jobs.
  15. Many media houses have been forced to cut salaries or lay off their workers due to the increasingly tricky capacity to sustain operations. We believe that it is most auspicious for Government to work with the Nigeria Press Organisation (NPO) and the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria to offer the much needed and anticipated bail out before it becomes too late. It is instructive to note that tied to the existence of genuine participatory democracy is the existence of a vibrant, free and independent media. The media must therefore be jealously guarded to promote Good Governance and the rule of law.
  16. Nigeria’s efforts at ensuring international best practices in the broadcast industry are not very impressive as the nation regrettably lags in this regard. Stakeholders have repeatedly called for a complete review of the digitisation process, specifically in the area of the legal framework, as the only document available remains the Government White paper of 2012. This White Paper does not capture issues of contemporary technological development, and it is deficient in addressing decade long challenges that have emerged since its issuance. Similarly, the collection of Digital Access Fee is complicated.
  17. Your Excellency, sir, as critical stakeholders and significant players in the media industry, the NUJ is demanding the immediate stoppage of the collection of this Fee. At the same time, the amount so far collected should be accounted for. We call on the Government to be more proactive in dealing with these problems. In light of this, we appeal to the Federal Government through your office to support the ongoing drive for a Media Stabilisation Fund to assist ailing media organisations in the Country.
  18. Your Excellency sir, in line with Section 22 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), which empowers the media to hold the Government accountable to the people, the NUJ now appeal to the Federal Government to make budgetary provision for a National Media Tour to enable practitioners to assess the performance of Governance in the Country. By so doing, the fourth estate of the realm will be seen in bridging the gap between the Government and the governed in line with the spirit and letters of our Constitution.
  19. To the judiciary, which is Your Excellency’s primary Constituency, the NUJ will like to record the tremendous improvement in this sector since the coming into office of the present administration in 2015 till date. The entrenchment of the autonomy of the legislature and judiciary at both the Federal and State levels is commendable. The NUJ views this as a right step in the right direction to encourage legislative and judicial autonomy, thereby making the judiciary the last hope of the common man.
  20. Despite this commendable development, the NUJ, as the voice of the voiceless, is worried about the ongoing forum shopping in the polity. The institution of a multiplicity of actions in the same subject matter in various courts of coordinate jurisdictions is worrisome and a dangerous trend that must be checked to protect our democratic norms.
  21. To restore the shaky confidence of the familiar person in our judicial process, all hands must be on deck to arrest this ugly trend that has been condemned in decided cases by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. In light of this, the NUJ calls on litigants and their counsels to stop the abuse of court processes.
  22. We are aware of the steps by the National Judicial Council, NJC, which has set up three committees to probe the issuance of conflicting exparte orders on the same matter by three Judges from different jurisdictions. While we applaud this process, we also advocate sanctions for both litigants and their counsel for their involvement in forum shopping.
  23. Let me assure Your Excellency that the NUJ under my leadership will continue to support good Governance and equitable distribution of available resources. Once again, thank you, Your Excellency, for granting us an audience despite your tight schedules.
Nuj
Yemi Osinbajo
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