Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation Ethics and Values, Hon Segun Dokun Odebunmi, has promised to ensure speedy action on the Journalism Enhancement Bill before the National Assembly.
The bill proposed the minimum entry point for editorial staff, conditions of service to commensurate with what obtains at the Federal Civil Service and the payment of hazard allowance to journalists, among others.
Apart from remuneration, the bill also states that “The Nigeria Union of Journalists, the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria should ensure the implementation of the eligibility criteria for entry into and practice of journalism in Nigeria, as contained in the Nigerian Press Council Decree No 85 of 1992.
“All professionals and trade unions of media workers and owners notably the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) and the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) should partner the Nigerian Press Council and make it mandatory for all potential journalists to register with the relevant professional and regulatory bodies after fulfilling a basic requirement and be accredited to practice. They must also sign to uphold the code of conduct and ethics for Nigerian Journalists.”
Odebunmi while featuring on a radio programme in Ibadan said he was not aware of the bill before but he would dig it out and take immediate action on it to enhance professionalism in the media industry.
At a press briefing in his office, Abuja, recently, the APC lawmaker from Ogo oluwa/Surulere Federal Constituency said the insinuation that the media bill was sponsored by the federal government through minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, was not true.
According to him the bill, which is”A Bill For An Act To Amend The Nigerian Press Council Act. Cap N128, Laws of The Federation Of Nigeria 1992 to remove Bottlenecks Affecting its Performance and make the Council in tune with the Current realities in Regulating Press” was only influenced by his passion to ensure effectiveness of the regulating agencies and not to gag the media as being poorly muscled by some sessions of the public.
“Most of the people commenting on the bill have no knowledge of it. The bill was not sponsored by the federal government, even the minister of Information was only aware a few days to the presentation and he did not have any input on the bill, it is my idea because I feel we should not wait for supreme court judgement to do what is right by amending the existing controversial law.”
The federal lawmaker maintained that stakeholders in the media industry have the right to reject the minister as the one to approve the code of conduct, since the bill is still undergoing scrutiny by the House of Representatives.
“And that is why I am calling for the stakeholders to come together and come up with a code that would be approved. There’s a process to approve the code, as all the stakeholders will come together before they can approve that code. So the code can be put together by the professional journalists based on what you think will be able to guide you and protect even the voiceless among you.”