By Benjamin NJOKU
The Nigeria Guild of Editors had added it voice to the growing call on President Yar â€˜ Adua to hand over to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan.
In a communique issued at the end of itsÂ Standing Committee meeting in Lagos yesterday and signed by its President Gbenga Adefaye, the Guild also commented on the proposed Nigerian Press Council Bill saying that although it agrees that there should be regul;ation of the media but it is strongly opposed to any government regulated Nigerian Press Council.
The Communique said:â€™The proposed Nigerian Press Council bill: The Guild acknowledged the need for regulation. However, the Guild restates its rejection of any effort to have a government-regulated Nigerian Press Council. The Guild also restated its opposition to the criminal libel law and suggest that the law be repealed, like it was done in Ghana.
On the proposed registration of journalists as contained in the Press
Council bill, through the Nigerian Union of Journalists, the Guild said it would be guided by Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which conforms with the provisions of the African Charter on Human Rights, that the right to seek employment and to disseminate information should not be discriminatory.
It noted that registration of journalists would be tantamount to licensing journalists, which, due to the precarious nature in our environment, should be discouraged.
The Guild also rejected the legislation of salaries and wages as proposed in the bill.
*Freedom of Information Bill: The Guild condemned the deliberate and continued effort of members of the House of Representatives to frustrate the passage of the FOI bill. It said it would keep a watch-list of members in the House who have elected to deny the people their right to know.”
*State of the Nation: The Guild aligned itself with the position of Media stakeholders which recently expressed concern over the drifting ship of the state occasioned byÂ the prolongedÂ absence of President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua for medical reasons.
It urged the Presidentâ€™s handlers to help lift the siege imposed on governance by doing the right thing:
swear_in the Vice President as Acting President, in conformity withthe constitution of the country.
The Guild noted that while the Presidentâ€™s health challenge is regrettable and has earned its sympathy, it should neither be politicized nor used to hold the nation down.
*Jos Crisis: The Guild condemns the recurrent crisis and blames it onthe failure of security agencies in the country and government atvarious levels.. The NGE aligns with stakeholders and theinternational bodies like the European Union to demand thatperpetrators of the violence be brought to justice.
It urged citizensof Nigeria to live in peace and harmony wherever they choose to stay.
*Allegation by True Face of Lagos group against Editors and the Media:
The Guild described as spurious and malicious the allegations by theTrue Face of Lagos that N183 million was spent on newspaper editorsand media houses by the Lagos State government.
The Guild urged thatadvertising budgets for media houses should not be confused withgraft. It therefore challenged the group to come out in the open andsubstantiate its claims.