Dr Qasim Akinreti, Chairman, Lagos State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), has said that the Federal Government promised to provide incentives for the media industry to cushions the effect of COVID-19.
Akinreti made this known on Tuesday in Lagos while briefing journalists on the state of the Nigerian media during these turbulent times.
He said that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alh Lai Mohammed, gave the assurance that the plight of the media industry was already being looked into.
“The Nigerian media is gasping for breathe and the government will have to do something urgent to assist the print media.
”The Federal Government has agreed to assist the print media industry after concessions have been given to the broadcast media in terms of 60 per cent relief of the debts owed the NBC.
”The minister said that federal government have worked it out; there have been discussions with the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN).
“They are waiting for NPAN to give them the guide so that government can announce the incentives for the print media,” the chairman said.
According to him, the media houses have been in serious crisis, which has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
”Before COVID-19, we have been in serious crisis, while COVID-19 is also still on, we have very serious challenge on our hands. Unfortunately last week, 200 of our colleagues lost their jobs at the Nation newspapers.
”Before now, Punch newspapers was the first to send our members packing to the labour market and Daily Trust did the same thing.
”And we know before we have had some challenges with some media organisation such as Daar Communications, Vanguard newspapers, Thisday, Champion newspapers. These are media organisations that have not been paying salaries.
”Now those that are paying salaries and managing to survive decided to also shed the load. So it is a serious challenge,” he said.
Akinreti said that reports had it that NTA ran at a lost, same with Daar Communications, and most of the private stations were just struggling to survive, hence, a very serious time for the media in Nigeria.
”We are going to engage the management of The Nation newspapers to ensure that once the economy picks up, they are going to recall some of our members on forced leave. We are also talking to Vanguard newspapers.
”We are appealing to them that if they want to shed the load, they should also give our members their cheques, so that as they are leaving, they can be able to plan their lives,” he said.