Shettima seeks better welfare package for journalists

By The Citizen

Gov. Kashim Shettima of Borno says Nigerian journalists deserve an enhanced welfare package commensurate to their selfless service to the nation.

This is contained in a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the governor on Communication, Malam Isa Gusau, at the end of a meeting of the North East Zone of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Maiduguri at the weekend.

At the meeting which coincided with the kick-off of the Borno Press Week in Maiduguri, Shettima commended Nigerian journalists for their hard work and dedication to duty.

“I am happy that, for the first time in many years, we have delegates from Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba states here in Borno for this important meeting.

“I have very strong passion for the journalism profession. I have very many friends in the Industry with our ties spanning over 20 years in some cases.

“I do not know if I am being too emotional, but I just have pity for journalists working in Nigeria.''

He said the country was blessed with a great press comprising very hard working, fearless, courageous and unrelenting professionals who work so much and earn so little as wages.

“In most cases, they don't enjoy the benefits that correspond with the work they do and the hazards they face.

“When there is crisis, everyone runs to hide but the journalist goes in search of what happened and what is happening, to inform those people hiding so as to make them safer in their hide outs.

“During festivities, when others wear all manner of clothes and plan outings with their families and friends, the journalist is busy capturing how the celebrations is being marked; he or she is excluded.”

“The journalist has no weekend, no public holiday and sometimes, no time to spend with family. A journalist, to me, is a life saver.''

Shettima said that given the tedious nature of journalism, Nigerian journalists ought to be among the highest paid professionals in the country.

“It is sad to note that most Nigerian journalists are poor.

“In the past when we attended events, all it took to identify the journalists was to lookout for the lanky men with shirts tucked into their trousers, holding a pen, a memo pad and a heavy bag pulling down their right arms.''

Shettima however commended the NUJ leadership for spearheading a campaign for enhanced welfare for journalists.

“We pray that we will be able to improve the welfare of journalists in Nigeria as they rightly deserve.

“They certainly deserve to be supported,'' he said.

Shettima said that the state government had commenced payment of weigh-in allowances to journalists working in the state owned media outfits.

“About two months ago, I instructed that funds be released to offset all outstanding benefits to journalists working with state-owned media houses.

“We will continue to cater for the welfare of not just journalists working with the state but indeed all resident and visiting journalists to the best of our abilities,'' he said.

“This gathering seeks to deepen the journalism profession and by extension, contribute to the development of the region and the nation at large.