The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has given kudos to the Nigerian media for their support for the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, even as he solicited for more support to overcome the global pandemic.
A statement released by the Special Assistant to The President (Media), Office of the Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi, said that Alhaji Mohammed gave the commendation and made the call during a virtual meeting with the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria, NPAN, adding that the government needs the media now more than ever.
Quoting a poll result showing that 99 per cent of Nigerians are aware of the pandemic, while 95 percent said they have received information on how to protect themselves, the minister said, “The government is very grateful to the media. You have done a lot to bring our message (on the pandemic) to Nigerians.”
He further said that in the absence of any known drug or vaccine against the virus, the only option is non-pharmaceutical intervention, NPI, which includes social distancing, wearing of face mask, avoiding mass gathering and ensuring personal hygiene.
Alhaji Mohammed said NPI is hinged on getting the necessary information to members of the public, and that this could only be done with the support of the media.
He added, “You see, the truth of the matter is that as long as there is no vaccine or drug for COVID-19, the only way we can all survive is through the NPI, which is actually anchored on advocacy and public sensitization and there is no way you can do this without the media in whatever form, whether it is the print, electronic or the new media.
“Yes; we are going to spend more on research and ventilators, but we will spend less money on ventilators, less on isolation centres if we invest just a fraction of what we are spending on ventilators in the media.”
The minister said that even though the Federal Government is facing huge economic challenges due to dwindling revenue, he would consider the requests by NPAN to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on its members
Speaking during the virtual meeting, NPAN chairman, Chief Nduka Obaigbena, said the media has continued to sensitize Nigerians on COVID-19 on all platforms, even in the face of drastic reduction in revenue.
While calling on the minister to enact a policy that will ensure that some online platforms pay for the original content they generate from the various media outlets in Nigeria, Obaigbena said, “In Australia, the government has intervened in ensuring that Facebook, Google and Twitter pay for original content by journalists and media practitioners as a matter of policy.”
The requests by the NPAN for mitigating the effects of the pandemic include a soft loan, tax relief and other fiscal incentives as well as an increased patronage of the media by the government.