Says media not political enemy of FG
Wants them expunged
By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has said that the media industry is not a political opponent or enemy of the Federal Government.
The NGE pointed out that many of the political elite’s attacks on the media are habitually not envisioned to win an argument on the values, journalistic or legal; but designed to bully media organizations.
The Guild, which is the umbrella of all editors in Nigeria, said these in a statement signed by Mustapha Isah (President) and Iyobosa Uwugiaren (General Secretary) on Tuesday in Abuja.
The Guild was reacting to
what it described as ‘’draconian provisions’’ in the two Bills – to amend the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) Act, and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act that are currently before the National Assembly, which the sponsors said were aimed at moderating the ‘’recklessness’’ of the media.
The NGE categorically declared that the Bills are actually meant to criminalize journalism practice in the country.
The Guild said that the ‘’oxygen of democracy’’: the media, will be strangulated if the bills are passed in their present forms.
The NGE therefore called on the National Assembly to remove those obnoxious provisions in the two bills that make it look as if they are meant to strangulate, instead of regulate the media.
According to the statement, “At a time there is a popular ongoing global conversation about the need for a #NewDealForJournalism’’ – for immediate and sustained action from, and collaboration between governments and other influential actors to improve the policy, funding, and enabling environment for independent professional journalism, we see the proposed legislations as unhelpful.
’While we are not opposed to an Act that will promote media stakeholders-driven regulatory council, the many draconian provisions in the Hon. Odebunmi Olusegun’s sponsored bills are actually aimed at criminalising media practice in Nigeria. While the intention of the sponsor of the bills is suspicious, the bills negate all known features of media regulatory bodies in the world’’, the Guild stated.
For example, the Guild said while the NPC Act. CAP N128, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1992, created by the military dictatorship, gives the Council Board full responsibility to administer the council, the proposed Act restricts the council board to ‘’advisory capacity on a part-time basis without direct interference in the day to day administration of the council’’, and gives the Executive Secretary all the power”
The Guild added, ‘’While the proposed NPC Act says the Board shall consist of one representative each from the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ); Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE); Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN); Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON); Ministry of Information; two Representatives of the general public, one of whom shall be a legal practitioner and a woman and Executive Secretary of the council, who shall serve as the secretary to the Board, the board is a mere advisory body.
‘’The Bill also says that the Chairman of the Board shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Minister in charge of Information. And that all other members of the Board shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation by the Minister of Information. The intension of this kind of Council is suspicious”, the Guild said.
The body of editors is of the view that the professional body doesn’t need the approval of the Minister of Information to establish and disseminate a National Press Code and standards to guide the conduct of print media, related media houses and media practitioners and approves penalties and fines against violation of the press code, as provided for in the Bill.
Continuing, it said, ‘’The Guild is not aware of any media regulatory council in the world, which says that media regulatory council shall establish a National Press and Ethical Code of Conduct for media houses and media practitioners, which shall come into effect and be disseminated after approval by the Minister of Information, and that the code shall be binding on every media houses and journalists.”