Irrespective of the dwindling economy and the economic comatose we've plunged ourselves into in Nigeria, there's a dire need to find ways of ameliorating the plights of journalists and other beleaguered Nigerians. Journalists and indeed all Nigerian workers deserve a better welfare either from both public and private corporations or organizations.
There are indeed dark valleys of stagnation to the joyous daybreak of economic prosperity of Nigerians but however, the welfare of journalists is paramount hence the need to stop paying lipservice, providing good and accessible welfare services is undebatable because journalists are the voice or mouthpiece of the masses within and outside Nigeria.
The horrendous situation journalists are facing in Nigeria has however prompted the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) and the Coalition of Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) to strongly advocate better welfare for journalists. This laudable move is necessary to uphold the respect and dignity which has been accorded to the media profession just like every other dignified professions in the world but in a pathetic situation whereby journalists are poorly paid or not being paid at all by their employers, they get hindered in performing their responsibilities as watchdogs of the society.
The collaborative efforts of PTCIJ with other media agencies at this current dispensation is imperative to develop a roadmap for enhanced welfare for Nigerian Journalists. Laban Maku once posited that "No investment in the media can succeed without proper investment in the welfare and development of media professionals and workers".
While we've all perceived that one of the welfare conundrum which can be tailored down to poor remuneration as one of the biggest challenges facing the profession, there's need for a better working conditions of service for journalists especially those in the news room working for long hours - a palatable environment could suffice for this, including welfare provisions for journalists which will eschew them from any negative actions.
Without much ado, for any organization to function very effectively either big or small, the welfare of the staff of that organization must first be taken into consideration as utmost priority because a staff who is not taken good care cannot function with empty stomach.
The need for Nigerian journalists to be well and adequately remunerated coupled with the needed welfare packages to enhance their duties must be strongly advocated because of the enormous sacrifices and valuable contributions to societal growth. So therefore, a good pay is necessary so as not fall as a prey to monetary inducement.
The continuous peculiarities which has been a germane issue over the years in press advocacy has just been majorly centered on censorship, harassment and imprisonment of journalists while the overall working and welfare situation of journalists does not get larger percentage of attention.
Akabogu, C.E (2005), in his paper “The Ethical Journalist and Brown Envelop Syndrome: The Way Forward”, He posited that although some journalists will always take bribe money, the great majority of journalists take bribe money because they are generally not well paid, even in the face of a lot of financial problems within and outside their working environment.
Sadly, Journalists are left at cross roads in the country in respect to survival especially with plethora of issues ranging from non-payment of salaries to journalists as at when due, even the salaries are not even enough to take care of the basic needs of the journalists to lack of recognition and acknowledgements, the poor remuneration has however prompted handful of of journalists to engage in the "Brown envelope" syndrome act, so at the end of the day, the stain on the profession becomes enormous.
Alao Abiodun, a journalist, writes from Lagos. He can be reached via [email protected]