By Deji Abdulwahab
Abuja – The Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to approve and implement the media salary scale for the media practitioners in the public sector.
The group gave the advice in a statement issued in Abuja by its National Coordinator, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi.
“Today is World Press Freedom Day. On this occasion the Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria calls on the Federal and state governments to approve and implement the Media Salary Scale for media practitioners in the public sector.
“`Governments should also create conducive environment for them to facilitate their assignment as it is done in civilised countries of the world,’’ Abdullahi said.
He commended Nigerian media practitioners for their professionalism, sacrifice and commitment to service of mankind.
“It is noted that even though freedom of the press is a prerequisite for societal development.
“Lack of freedom for some media practitioners in some African countries have been a clog in the wheel of progress and one of the causes of underdevelopment in the continent.
“While government at all levels in Nigeria should be commended for upholding press freedom, media practitioners too should demonstrate high sense of patriotism in the execution of their duties,’’ he said.
The national coordinator described the recent negative publicity given to President Muhammadu Buhari’s medical vacation abroad and absence at FEC meeting recently by some media organisations as unfortunate and embarrassing.
“Real professionals in media practice must distant themselves from negative publicity as it is unprofessional.
“They should also stand clear of lifting stories from unpatriotic elements using the social media to create negative image for the country,’’ he added.
Abdullahi also called for religious tolerance and objectivity in news coverage and editorials on the part of the Nigerian Press so as to promote religious peace and harmony in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that World Press Freedom Day is a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom.
The 2017 theme is, “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies.”
May 3 was declared World Press Freedom Day by the United Nations in 1993 after a 1991 UN conference held in Windhoek, Namibia, where African newspaper journalists presented a paper on press freedom principles.
The paper is famously called the Windhoek Declaration.
World Press Freedom Day is a day to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, evaluate press freedom around the world and defend the media from attacks on their independence.
It is a day to pay tribute to journalists, who have lost their lives in exercise of the profession, inform the citizens of violations of press freedom, encourage and develop initiatives in favour of press freedom worldwide and to serve as a reminder of press ethics.
Every year, UNESCO marks World Press Freedom Day by conferring the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on a deserving individual, organisation or institution that has achieved much especially in the face of danger.
The prize was created in 1997 and is open to UNESCO member states. The prize, worth US$45000, is named in honour of Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Columbian journalist who was assassinated in front of his newspaper office on Dec. 17, 1986.
Cano’s writings had offended Colombia’s powerful drug barons. It has been won once by a Nigerian – Christina Anyanwu, who was imprisoned by Gen. Sani Abacha for reporting on a failed coup d’etat against the government.