By Dennis Agbo
ABAKALIKIâ€” A member of the Board of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, and former Commissioner for Information in Ebonyi State, Dr. John Otu, has identified poor remuneration and motivation of journalists as the bane of quality media practice in Nigeria.
Otu who made the assertion in a lecture he presented during the 20th anniversary ofÂ Afikpo Today, a community magazine, at Ebonyi Hotels in Afikpo, stressed that many journalists in the country worked under terrible conditions with some receiving peanuts, quite incommensurate with the risks that are associated with theirÂ work.
â€œIndeed, the situation is demoralizing in which owners of media outfits in the country and the state owe workers salaries for upward of six months. Caught in thisÂ circumstance, the journalists, even those with rigid moral fibre are tempted to compromise standards in the discharge of there duties. It is only the government-owned media that fairly pay well and on time too. Most privately-owned media rarely pay, and when they manage to pay, remuneration is usually poor,â€ he said.
Otu, in a paper entitled, â€œThe Roles of the Press in a Democratic Setting: Ebonyi State as a Case Study,â€ urged the government at federal and state levels to set up a scheme that should be devoted to the welfare of journalists.
The NTA board member recalled that the press was at the head of Nigeriaâ€™s struggle for independence with the â€˜West African Pilot,â€™ a newspaper set up by one of the nationâ€™s foremost nationalists, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe blazing the trail, stressing that the press played similar role during the struggle for the creation of Ebonyi State in 1996.
He urged the press not to stop at its important roles of agenda-setting, but should also monitor the agenda being set. The ex-Commissioner arguedÂ that the inability of the press to follow up with periodic assessment of project and policy implementation had made some public functionaries to become complacent.