The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has called on the federal government to grant waiver to media houses on newsprint, printing machines and other imported consumables in the industry.
Speaking with journalists after meeting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa, Abuja, Funke Egbemode, president of the guild, said the discussion with the vice president was fruitful.
She said the industry was in distress and since it was not a non-governmental organisation (NGO), it is in need of cushions, intervention funds to remain in business.
“We are businesses and a sector of the economy. So, we came to talk about this sector, what are things that are available, opportunities that are available for us as businesses,” she said.
“We also came to talk about the distress in the industry. You know, we are not non-governmental organisations (NGOs). We have a job to do, we will do it without fear or favour but we are also businesses; we are taxpayers, we pay pension and do every other thing that businesses do.
“So, why is it that we are able to support everybody, every sector? Can we get support also as businesses? Can the system provide cushions for us, can we get intervention funds? ”
Egbemode applauded the positive response from Osinbajo, saying: “He has told us areas we can explore as a sector and that when we start working on it, it is possible that certain projects in the media can be looked into by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for intervention.
“It is something that we can go and discuss with the CBN and other agencies; we are just starting because we don’t want media houses to continue to die.
“We lose jobs, but we help build the society, we help build other businesses, we just think that we should not continue to work but extend our frontiers and look for opportunities so that we can create jobs.
“We should show them how job loses can occur and that’s the whole essence of asking for partnership, for opportunities to open doors for interventions in our industry.”
On whether the government would expect complete patronage from the media after its support, the NGE president said the media will remain professional in the discharge of its duties.
“It is not that kind of patronage. Is the government going to say that because we report good stories, we should not pay taxes?” she asked.
“We pay taxes so, we are talking as businesses. With us as businesses, we as professionals, we will do our work. Doctors do what they need to do, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t try to better the health sector.
“It is also good to better the media industry. Why can’t we, for instance, have special rates when you want to bring in our consumables because most of these items whether in print or the broadcast industry are imported.
“Can we have special concessions at the ports when we bring in our machines? When we bring in newsprint? Those are the kind of things we are talking about. It is a business issue.”