The Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ FCT Council, has expressed worry over the strategic communication plan of the federal government as well as the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), describing it as grossly inadequate.
Chairman of the Council, Emmanuel Ogbeche, in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja faulted the composition of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the FCT Administration’s Committee as lacking in media representation.
“The various Committees, those of the federal government and the FCT Administration, are lacking in strategic media representation. How can you have such sensitive committees without the input of media stakeholders especially the NUJ?
“From what we have seen, the messaging process is poor, inarticulate and not far reaching and this is rather unfortunate,” the statement reads.
“At a time such as this, what is required is broad based committees that bring stakeholders and those with the requisite professional background and not a wholly bureaucratic or partisan membership. But for the media on their own, there would have been no information.
“We are yet to hear a single jingle on the radio in any of the local languages. You can imagine that in Abuja which is beginning to see a surge in the number of those testing positive, not even a single jingle in say Gbagyi or Hausa because the media is not involved in the committees,” Ogbeche noted.
Also, the NUJ Chairman accused the federal government’s taskforce of lack of coordination. “Yesterday (Tuesday) the PTF after keeping journalists for over 3 hours cancelled the daily briefing for inexplicable reasons. Does this show the seriousness required at this time? It also speaks to the fact of why the present SGF-led team should have its membership drawn from professional bodies.”
According to Ogbeche, going forward, all the tiers of government – federal, state including FCT and local- should have media representatives in their committees.
He also decried the fact that members of the COVID-19 were properly kitted when addressing journalists at the Presidential Villa, while those of the media had no protective gear, a situation he described as counter-productive.
Ogbeche, therefore, made an appeal that journalists should be provided COVID-19 consumables such as masks, gloves, sanitizers and temperature guns as they keep working to keep the people abreast of developments and are exposed to the dangers of the pandemic on a daily basis.