The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) described as outstanding and courageous, the excellence and professionalism so far demonstrated by Nigerian medical doctors, nurses and other health workers in managing the coronavirus pandemic since the case was reported in the country.
Mr Chris Isiguzo, President of NUJ, gave the commendation in a statement on Monday.
“The Union is indeed proud of what our homegrown medical practitioners and health workers have achieved so far in the fight against this pandemic, in spite of poor facilities.
“With a very low mortality rate, an increasing number of discharged persons and effective management of positive patients, our medical professionals can compete favourably with the best in the world if given the opportunity.
“The union, therefore, calls on the federal and state governments to consider adequate remuneration for health workers in this line of duty.
“However, the time to invest in the health sector is now. The obvious impact of this rampaging pandemic has made it more imperative for our hospitals to become more functional.
“Also, the NUJ identifies the daily media briefing by the Task Force, interface with various state governments as important steps that have helped information dissemination, public education and enlightenment.
“The NUJ, therefore, stands with the government and Task Force and will continue to offer every support in this direction,” the NUJ president said.
Isiguzo commended NUJ members especially health reporters and correspondents and the Nigerian media generally for the on-going aggressive campaign through various news and programmes on the dangers of the virus.
He called on owners of media establishments to equip their reporters and provide palliatives for journalists across the country so as to reduce the risk faced at this critical time.
“For debtor media houses, the union reiterates that it will not continue to stand idle while journalists who work round the clock are owed several months arrears of salaries.
“Since our strategic engagements appear not to be yielding results as expected, the union in the coming weeks may be forced to resort to either picketing of such media houses or take legal actions,” he said.
He described as disappointing and careless, some decisions and actions of some state governors which are capable of undermining the restrictions and social distancing directives put in place for overall public safety.
According to him, relaxing the lockdown order in some states for the commemoration of the Easter celebration is a dangerous gamble and the affected states are advised to avoid such errors in future.
He suggested that governors of states where cases had been recorded but were yet to order a lockdown should do so as it remained better to err on the side of caution.
“However, the union uses this opportunity to advise politicians from all political parties to stop forthwith, from playing politics with a deadly global health challenge such as the coronavirus pandemic.
“We urge politicians to watch closely and learn from what is happening all over the world, where politics has taken a back seat in all countries including the USA that has a general election this year.
“Meanwhile, we applaud some affluent Nigerians, religious organisations, NGOs, development partners, public and private sectors that have donated funds to support the COVID-19 fight.
“We also call on others within and outside the country to emulate the gesture.
“Also, It must be made clear that the NUJ will hold accountable all those saddled with the responsibility of handling public funds during this period,” he stressed.
Isiguzo submitted that while calling for more sustained palliatives for the poor and hungry in society, there should be efficient distribution to all parts of the country.
“The union appeals to all citizens to give their full cooperation to all lawful orders to curb the spread of this virus,” he added.