Babatunde Jose Earned More Than Prime Minister —Ishaku

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Mr. Jonathan Ishaku, General Manager, Nigeria Standard, says the late Babatunde Jose earned higher than Nigeria’s Prime Minister when he was Managing Director of the Daily Times.

“Journalists’ salary is nothing to write home about today; the situation was much better decades ago because Jose, as the helmsman in the Daily Times, earned a salary higher than that of Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa,” he said.

Ishaku, who was speaking on the poor working condition of journalists, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos on Sunday that some reporters, in those days, could charter planes to seek stories.

“But the situation is generally different today. Now, some journalists trek to assignment venues.

“They reach assignment venues tired and fagged out. They would be sweating and are often looked down upon. They are hardly given seats or even recognised by security men.

“In some cases, they are even thrown out of the venues,” Ishaku lamented.

He called on owners of media houses to review the salaries of journalists working for them to afford them the comfort crucial for satisfactory performance of their duties.

The veteran journalists frowned at the engagement of freelance journalists, and the situation whereby some are denied salary or allowance.

“Such practice of engaging writers without salary is very dangerous because it is largely responsible for the notorious corruption in the practice.

“I have often heard some media house owners telling their workers to use their Identity Cards to survive. This encourages all manners of corruption as such persons are left desperate and therefore vulnerable.”

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Ishaku stressed that journalists deserved good pay package.

“Journalists take a lot of risk. It is good to remember that while others are asleep, journalists will be in the newsrooms.

“Lately, too, journalists have become targets of all manners of attack and are routinely killed, but many media houses do not have any insurance package. This is equally dangerous and very discouraging.”

Ishaku urged media houses and unions to press for better working conditions for the pen-pushers to shore up the quality of the nation’s news reports and ensure objective reporting.

“When the pay is good, journalists will not be beggarly and will not need to pander to the whims and caprices of parochial interests.

“Their central focus will be towards national development and the country will be better for it.”

He described the practice as a passion that must be supported, noting that such passion made the late Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first President, to keep identifying himself as a journalist even when he was President.

“It was not only Azikiwe that had such passionate love for the profession. The late Anthony Enahoro, former Minister of Information, was addressed as a journalist throughout his life.

“Like Azikiwe, that (journalism) was the profession in his passport.”