Abuja - Former Special Assistant to erstwhile President Shehu Shagari on National Assembly Liaison, Tanko Yakasai, has urged the National Assembly to enact a law aimed at improving the welfare of journalists.
The politician, who blamed labour leaders for not fighting for the rights of journalists, urged the legislators take advantage of the ongoing constitutional review to address the problem.
``I hope that the way the National Assembly is looking at various problems in this country, it would enact legislation and I hope the President will give assent to it, that will compel media proprietors to pay their staff very well.
``And I will like to take this opportunity to blame our trade union leaders; we are not fighting those media tycoons to pay their staff properly.’’
Yakasai noted that when the welfare of journalists is taken seriously, many of them would be encouraged to go into investigative journalism and shun gratification.
``In the outside world, a journalist like you will be at the same level with the Prime Minister or a Minister or a Speaker or Senate President. She’ll go to him without any fear, ask whatever question she would like to ask him because she is getting her salary.
``She is at the same level with the Managing Director of the biggest bank in the United States of America or England or France or Germany, because they are being paid. They are not looking for petty money to make ends meet.
``Most of the newspaper proprietors are not paying their staff. In fact I was told of a proprietor of a newspaper who used to tell his reporters that your identity card is your salary; and this is why the culture of brown envelops persists in Nigeria.’’
Yakasai, a public affairs analyst, also told NAN that journalists occupied a sensitive position capable of impacting on economic growth and should therefore be well taken care of.
He argued that that some journalists resorted to armchair journalism owing to poor welfare, a development which had made some of them to misinforming the public and heat up the polity.
``We must look for news and the journalist has no money to go and look for news, so he sits down and `create’ stories; and what is worrying me is that most of these stories are false; ``armchair journalism’’.
``This is what is happening in Nigeria and the trouble is that most of the foreign embassies base their reports on what is published in the newspapers.’’
Yakasai recommended that the law on the improvement of the working condition of journalists should include the withdrawal of licenses of media organisations that failed to comply. (NAN)