Panel submits report on media bill
But at the handing over of what the panel described as executive summary to the committee’s acting Chairman, Khabeeb Mustafa, in Abuja yesterday, Momoh declared that the National Assembly lacked the constitutional powers to legislate a minimum wage for practising journalists.
Giving an insight into the report while fielding questions from reporters, Momoh, a former Minister of Information during the Ibrahim Babangida administration, said: “The National Assembly fixing minimum wage for journalists is unconstitutional. It is wrong for the National Assembly to fix salaries for media houses.
“Media organisations in the country reserve the right of negotiation with their staff on salaries. The National Assembly cannot decide on the salaries media houses should pay their staff. It is unconstitutional for the National Assembly to do so,” he added.
Though the committee picked holes in the bill in a 12-part report with 79 sections, it commended the embattled sponsor of the bill, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa for “sponsoring the bill.”
The committee comprises representatives of Nigerian Newspapers Proprietors’ Association of Nigerian (NPAN), Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), National Association of Journalism and Mass Communication Teachers, the Nigerian Press Council (NPC), the Ministry of Information and the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Momoh, who is a member of the NPC said the bill was a good effort, but contained clauses that betrayed some fear on the part of politicians for the press.
He observed that the fear of the press was misplaced, as what the sector seeks is respect and not apathy from the political class.
“Abike Dabiri did a wonderful job of sponsoring the bill, but the lawmakers and politicians in the country should not be afraid of the media.
“We the media are very powerful, but people should not be afraid of us, not fear us. What we should be working for is respect,” he said.
Earlier, Mustafa, commended the committee for an “exciting discussion on the bill, and a painstakingly piecing together of research papers on the way forward for the media in Nigeria.”
Mustafa, who described Momoh as “the grandfather of journalism in Nigeria and an icon in this country”, said his committee would promptly “include the amendments to the clauses in the committee’s report.”