By Egena Sunday Ode
The federal government on Monday said it was ready to give necessary support to the newspaper subsector of the media industry.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this in an interview with State House Correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Minister who disclosed that government had already intervened in the broadcast subsector of the industry, added that government was waiting for the the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) to come forward with a submission on how government could help.
He said: “Government has done a lot the media, especially the broadcast industry, during this pandemic. The first thing we did was to give a waiver of two months payment of license fees to all broadcast houses, between May and July, after which we gave an amnesty as 60% discount or debt forgiveness, for all broadcast houses, except the Pay TVs, and also slashed by 30% the licensing fees because of the COVID-19.
“I also met with the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, we met virtually and I’m still waiting for them to come and make their submissions.
“Definitely, the government is willing to look into the hardships and the challenges the media is facing and within our means to see how best we can intervene. I’m still waiting for the NPAN to come back to us to see what we can do to ameliorate the situation”.
Alhaji Mohammed also noted that the federal government was serious about developing the entire creative industry, especially because of the huge job opportunity potential it had, adding that President Buhari was particularly interested in the industry.
“This government is putting a lot of emphasis and promoting the creative industry, which is tourism, which is hospitality industry, which is the music industry, which is the film industry, which is publishing, which is broadcasting.
“We’ll continue to support this industry and have the Mr President’s support. He was quite excited about the portrait because he’s able to see what kind of jobs can be created through this cultural festivals”, he said.
On why he met with President Buhari, the Minister said “I came today to make a presentation of a portrait of the Argungu Festival to Mr President.
“You’ll recall that sometimes in February this year, after almost ten years of hiatus, the Argungu Festival made a comeback. The Argungu Festival is one of the two UNESCO recognised festivals and it’s on the UNESCO list of heritages”, he said.