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Stop treating journalists like a wheelbarrow, minister warns

…Seeks legal framework to guarantee reward system for key actors

The Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, on Tuesday, advocated for a legal framework that would guarantee a reward system for key actors who have contributed meaningfully to the development of the country.
Dalung, who spoke when he paid a condolence visit to the State House Correspondents at the Press Gallery, Presidential Villa, Abuja, over the sudden death of the Channels Television Reporter, Chukwuma Onuekwusi, cautioned against treating journalists like a wheelbarrow.
According to him, “We need to begin to appreciate contributions in this country before we will take our bearing properly.”
He noted that the reward system in the country is fundamentally faulty.
Responding to question on whether he shares the view that journalists are not taken care of in Nigeria, he said: “Yes, it has been my sentiment too and you are not too far from being very accurate. Looking at the role journalists play even in entrenching this democracy, I don’t think and believe that they had actually been accommodated within the structure with which they sought to build.
“I believe that the absence of journalists in the present democratic experiment is also one of the major factors with which we have not appreciated them much. Anybody who participated in the struggle for democracy in this country would know the role journalists play. Many lost their lives in the struggle but unfortunately, when democracy finally came what has actually become of journalism is the Wheelbarrow Theory.
“The wheelbarrow is a very important tool that has no garage, it is kept in the sun and under the rain but when there is the need for you to convey any bag of either garri or rice, you rush, you dust it, use it and return it to where you keep it. It is unfortunate! We need to begin to appreciate contributions in this country before we will take our bearing properly. Our reward system is fundamentally faulty.
“So what is left of journalism is, well, you build a lot of enmity in terms of trying to file reports because for you to be objective and report events, you are going to build also a profile of enmity in a country where people do not appreciate being truthful. At the end of the day, when you (a journalist) phased out as Chukwuma has done, we are only now left with storytelling. The State House chapel here and the Nigerian Union of Journalists will now be left as the final constituency to be responsible for him, his family and his little kids and how long can they go.
“So I am of the opinion that we must look at our laws and entrench a very solid reward system to guarantee contributions of key actors like journalists.”
The minister, who expressed shock over the death of Mr Onuekwusi, described him as a great and gentleman.
“Well, I have been on medication vacation, I just returned. I am here to pay a condolence to the State House Chapter over the sudden exit of a very great man, gentle man, a friend, somebody whom personally I appreciated so much, Chukwuma Onuebgusi.
“The news came to me, the devastating blow because hitherto he never exhibited signs or symptoms of sickness. So I couldn’t comprehend actually what could have been the circumstances that led to his demise. I was even imagining it could have been accident. But indeed, it wasn’t. It is a great loss not only to the State House Chapel but to Nigeria in general. We have lost a rear gem and I believe that the vacuum his exit created might not be occupied too easily.
“It is my sincere and honest prayers that the Lord God, the custodian of human destiny and source will grant him paradise. May his soul rest in perfect peace,” he remarked.