…commend Abike Dabiri for press bill
By Tordue Salem
ABUJAâ€”The Tony Momoh-led ad hoc committee set up to review the amendment to the Nigerian Press Council Bill, laid its report before the House of Representatives Committee on Information and National Orientation yesterday, as it declared that the National Assembly lacked the constitutional powers to legislate a minimum wage for practising journalists.
Mr. Tony Momoh while giving highlights of the report of his committee at a briefing said â€œThe National Assembly fixing minimum wages for journalists is unconstitutional.
â€œIt is wrong for the National Assembly to fix salaries for the media houses. Media organisations in the country reserve the right of negotiation with their staff on salaries. The National Assembly cannot decide on the salaries media houses should pay their staff. It is unconstitutional for the National Assembly to do so,â€ he said.
Though the committee picked holes in the Bill in a 12-part report with 79 sections, it commended the embattled sponsor of the Bill, Rep. Abike Dabiri-Erewa for â€œsponsoring this important Billâ€.
The Momoh Committee report was put together by the Nigerian Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigerian, NPAN, Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON, Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the Nigerian Press Council, NPC, the Ministry of Information and the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.
The Chairman of the Committee, who is a member of the Nigerian Press Council, and a former Minister of Information in the regime of former Military President, Ibrahim Babangida, said the bill was a good effort, but contained clauses that betrayed some fear on the part of politicians for the press.
He observed that the fear of the press was misplaced, as what the sector seeks is respect and not apathy from the political class.
â€œHon. Abike Dabiri did a wonderful job of sponsoring the Bill, but the lawmakers and politicians in the country should not be afraid of the media.
â€œWe the media are very powerful, but people should not be afraid of us, people should not fear us. What we should be working for is respect for the mediaâ€, he said.