COVID-19: Journalists deserve medals like other frontline workers – Lagos Commissioner

The Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos State, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso on Saturday said journalists across the country deserve medals and awards like other frontline workers.

Omotoso who spoke in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital requested that journalists be appreciated like nurses and doctors for the critical role they played during the lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.

Omotoso, a former Editor of a Nigerian Daily, made these assertions while delivering a paper titled “Journalists and the development of underdevelopment at the opening of the 2020 Nigeria Union of Journalists press week in Oyo.

Omotoso said journalists like other professionals joined the battle against COVID-19, hence the need to praise them for jobs well done.

He added that despite the challenges facing newsmen in Nigeria, they have always risen to occasion when it mattered the most.

He said “If nobody would praise the media, that would not be fine. Journalists deserve medals, just like the other frontline workers who joined the battle against COVID-19. Perhaps for the first time, you found many professionals – doctors, lab attendants, nurses, cleaners, drivers and others – working together as a team

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“The Nigerian journalist has always risen to the occasion whenever it matters. Consider the recent calamity that befell humanity; the deadly COVID-19. Before it arrived at our shores, experts had been predicting a kind of apocalypse. We were all gripped by great fear.

“So thick was the anxiety that you could cut it with a knife. They said we would be picking bodies on the street. The rich invested heavily in ventilators, which they bought and kept in their inner rooms for themselves and members of their privileged families.

“To God be the glory, the gloomy predictions did not come to pass. We lost some of our compatriots – may The Almighty bless their souls – but we haven’t been picking bodies on the street. Now the world is wondering how Nigeria did it, despite our weak healthcare system.

“Compared with the figures we see every day from the developed world, we can say boldly that Nigeria has done well in managing this pandemic.
One fact remains strong in this narrative of success – the media.

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“The media played a remarkable role in informing Nigerians on the dos and don’ts of the disease. This was done constantly. In other words, communication played a major role in fighting the disease. Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu realized early in the fight that communication was essential.

“He dished out facts and figures to ensure that Lagosians got information that helped them to stay safe. Journalists were always there to relay his messages. Here, no doubt is a clear case of journalists leading the way to development.

“Has there been a reversal of the gains? Not quite. But it is important to state that we as journalists have not done well in the coverage of the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests. We seem to have abandoned the story for the likes of CNN to do an inciting series that has done so much damage to the memory of those who died in the riots that followed the unseen massacre at the Lekki Toll Plaza.”

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