Treat Journalists As COVID-19 Frontliners, Ex NUJ President Tells Buhari, AU

* Fmr. NUJ President, Abdulwaheed Odusile




Former President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the West African Journalists Association President, Abdulwaheed Odusile has called on President Muhammad Buhari and other African leaders under the umbrella body; Africa Union to treat journalists as deserved heroes of COVID-19 era.

Odusile made the call earlier today while delivering a paper titled, “Media and Survival Strategy Post COVID-19 at the international electronic migration summit organised by the Journalists International Forum for Migration (JIFORM), which attracted journalist across  the world .

The ex-NUJ President said media practitioners deserve whatever palliative and insurance scheme set aside for health workers in Nigeria and on African continent.

According to Odusile, “At the moment, the world is focused on the pandemic of the novel Coronavirus and its associated COVID-19 disease ravaging the universe. With the exception of a few countries, virtually all the nations of the world have felt the rapid expansion and infection of the virus.The Newsrooms across the globe are not even immune as a number of journalists, notable in India and even here in Nigeria have been stuck down by the virus. The Media workforce, journalists and non-journalists alike have come under the pangs of this virus and its associated disease.”

Speaking further, he said, “I would like to state that the Nigeria Union of Journalists and all the other workers’ unions in the Media should use this COVID -19 experience to draw up and get a comprehensive insurance package for journalists and other media workers. Like the frontline healthcare professionals/medics working to combat the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, journalists are also on the frontline fighting COVID-19, gathering information for the public from the theatre of operation.”

He argued that whatever palliatives or health insurance cover being given or planned for the frontline healthcare professionals, Journalists too deserve such.

In his words, “Our unions;NUJ, Radio Television Theatre and Art Workers Union of Nigeria(RATTAWU), NUPROW) leaders must seize the opportunity, think ahead and protect not just the jobs of their members but their health and wellbeing as well

My detour into the welfare of our members, workers in the media is deliberate” he said.

The former NUJ President while advising media to invest in technology ahead of post pandemic said “As we are looking for the light at the end of COVID-19 dark tunnel, the media, including the owners, managers and workers must rethink their strategy as it will no longer be business as usual once the pandemic is over.

“The post-COVID-19 media must draw a lesson from what is happening now that the pandemic is still with us and design the new normal for media business. The journalists, particularly their union, the NUJ, must do the same.

“The media must look seriously into this with a possibility of embracing it especially for field staff, who does not have to be in the office everyday. Such worker would includes editorial, advertising and marketing who could do their work from the convenience of

“To do this effectively, it will involve investment in ICT equipments and retraining of personnel. It may shock you to know that in this 21st century some journalists are still ICT illiterates out of shear laziness and lack of desire for personal growth and development. They are still waiting for their employers to organize ICT training for them and also give the latest gadgets to work with.

“Most countries have introduced lockdowns as a way of slowing down the spread of the Coronavirus as they try to defeat the associated disease.

The former NUJ President pointed out that the lockdown had also presented the media with another opportunity to tinker and innovate with its marketing strategies.

He, however said that more work needed to be done to ensure that the media houses not only circulate their newspapers online to wider audiences, but also make additional money through subscriptions and other forms of payments.

“E-conferencing or virtual conferencing as we are having now looks to me to be part of that future for the media as we prepare for a list-COVID-19 media world. Everyone do not have to be in one place at the same time to meet and take decisions. Daily editorial conferences in the Newsrooms could be virtual and decisions taken,” he said.

The three-day event, which ended today also had as speakers the National Public Relations Officer of Nigeria Immigration Service, Deputy Comptroller Sunday James, International Organization for Migration (IOM) Communication Official from Gambia, Mr Miko Alazas and Professor Kanu Ikechukwu Anthony, O. S.A, the Rector of Villanova Polytechnic, Imesi-Ile, Osun State.

All the speakers were lauded for their contributions by the President of JIFORM, Ajibola Abayomi for impacting positively on the over I50 migration journalists across the world.

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