Senate President, Bukola Saraki, today called for a comprehensive insurance coverage for journalists in the country. He also called for improved salaries for media practitioners as a way of boosting their morale and increasing productivity.
Saraki made these remarks when he Chaired the opening session of the 5th Triennial National Delegates Conference of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Abuja.
The Senate President, who was represented at the event by the Senator representing Kaduna Central, Senator Shehu Sani, said that recent events in the national, cross-border and global polity has undoubtedly put a lot of emphasis on the safety, sustainability, value, rights and moral standing of the average journalist.
According to him, journalists put themselves through difficult channels to ensure that democracy has its highest expression.
“It is thus incumbent on us, the custodians of this democracy, to bring to the fore viewpoints that will enhance the productivity and efforts of these professionals. That is why I associate myself with the call for journalists to be provided insurance cover by their employers, be it government or private. I also want to canvass enhanced salaries for the
“However, this demands that journalists through their associations should strictly enforce adherence to professionalism and code of ethics of their profession. There must also be penalty for those who violate the ethics or behave in a manner unbecoming of a professional,” he said.
Saraki stated that the indisputable influence of the mass media on diverse issues in the society, and the multi-dimensional nature of that influence has inevitably led to the call for the role of the media with particular emphasis on democracy to be centred keeping the people informed, providing critical information and setting agenda for the public.
“However, as seemingly basic as the above roles might seem, the unwavering impact of the attendant consequences cannot be glossed over and so, the effectiveness of the media in discharging these set duties will all but depend on the quality of media personnel, ownership, poverty level, ethnicity, civil society, professionalism, ethical and moral orientation of the media, religion, influences on the media such as powerful groups, advertisers and public relations people.”
He said that no nation can underestimate the importance of the media in the art of governance because the roles they play are primarily and centrally placed in national, regional, and local affairs.
The Senate President said it is necessary to urgently review the training curriculum in Journalism institutions to accommodate parliamentary journalism and other necessary skills to prepare potential reporters for challenges in the area of Legislative Reporting.