The Federal Government has commended the Nigerian media for their support in the ongoing fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Making the call yesterday at a virtual meeting with the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, appealed for more media support for the Federal Government’s efforts to tackle the pandemic.
“The government is very grateful to the media. You have done a lot to bring our message (on the pandemic) to Nigerians,” he said, quoting a poll showing that 99 per cent of Nigerians were aware of the pandemic while 95 per cent said they had received information on how to protect themselves.
In the absence of any known drug or vaccine against the virus, the only option is Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention (NPI), which includes social distancing, wearing of face mask, avoiding mass gathering and ensuring personal hygiene, Mohammed noted.
According to him, NPI is hinged on getting the necessary information to members of the public, and this could only be done with the support of the media.
“Yes, we are going to spend more on research and ventilators; but we will spend less money on ventilators and isolation centres if we invest just a fraction of what we are spending on ventilators in the media,” the minister said.
Chairman of NPAN, Chief Nduka Obaigbena, said the media had continued to sensitise Nigerians on COVID-19 on all platforms, even in the face of a drastic reduction in revenue.
He called on the minister to enact a policy that would ensure that some online platforms pay for the original content they generate from the various media outlets in Nigeria.
“In Australia, the government has intervened in ensuring that Facebook, Google and Twitter pay for original content by journalists and media practitioners as a matter of policy,” he said, urging the minister to do the same for the Nigerian media.
NPAN’s request for mitigating the effect of the pandemic on the media include soft loan, tax relief and other fiscal incentives as well as increased patronage by the government.