Nigeria association of women Journalist. NAWOJ has called on journalist in Nigeria to begin to tell their own stories and demand for things that can lead to improvement on the sorry state of journalist welfare in the country.
The Rivers state chairperson of NAWOJ Lilian Ogabu Okonkwo told East west reporters at the sideline of a one day workshops organized by the Nigerian Union of journalist, NUJ rivers state chapter to mark world press freedom day in port Harcourt.
She said when it comes to elections coverage in Nigeria no one is safe,
Lillian was reacting to the theme of the world press freedom day.
She said, you know what your colleague have suffered in the past covering elections, phones, cameras, midgets are lost, confiscated, smashed some journalist attacked. And if you ask me, I think it’s even worse for female journalist because most times, the attackers take advantage of our gentile nature, so election coverage in Nigeria is a herculean task and worst for the women.
When asked, Should the security agents provide special protection for the women covering elections?
Lilian ‘I don’t want to sound that way, because we all need security, but I don’t think with the crop of security agents we have in Nigeria that is possible, the security agents cants even protect themselves, this has a lot of things to do with media owners, what can they do to provide security for journalist, I was talking with some people they narrated how gallantry, Christiana Amanpour is at her work and I asked them, do we have the kind of incentive Amanpour has?, we see her wear, bullet proof jackets, who provides that for us? Journalist buy their gadgets themselves, from phones, cameras, laptop etc. so Nigeria police does not have what it takes to protect you not to talk of protecting themselves.
For me I usually advise journalist to be cautious, careful and alert, we have a lot of cases in the North, south, and west where journalist was brutalized and killed and nothing happened, as I speak to that’s the end of that story, no investigation, no compensation and not a single arrest.
She added “its hi time we began to look highlight on this issues, we can’t continue to highlight on people problems, challenges in the society and issues bordering the rest of the world and ignore our suffering. We can’t tell other peoples stories more than we do ours, to draw the attention of media owners, government to our plight. We must let them know that there’s need for insurance, there’s need for security and the need to have better pay and proper welfare packages.
We work every day, including weekends and public holidays, just like the medical people, but do we have the kind of incentives that medical people have? But they are specially paid. You see when we celebrate a day like this, it’s a day to bring the issues forward.
So for us as journalist we should tell our stories, we saddled with telling other peoples stories that we abandon ourselves, people needs to know what is happening to us. The Truth remains that journalist do not have security, we are not well paid, we are not well catered for, let’s tell these stories and let these narrative change.