The immediate past Managing Editor of the Daily Times newspapers, Mr. Bonaventure Melah, weekend, joined the rank of publishers with the official presentation of his publication African Leadership Scorecard in Abuja.
Speaking at the presentation, which held at the NUJ FCT Council Press Centre, the Executive Director News, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Suleiman Ahaziah, commended Melah for taking the leap of faith and tasked veterans and senior practicing journalists with requisite experience and capacity to set up and manage media organisations to complement existing platforms.
Ahaziah, who was the special guest, stated that while many newspapers and other media companies in Nigeria are going extinct, new ones were not springing up to close the gap, lamenting that the situation has led to many journalists losing their jobs without finding new opportunities to showcase their skills.
“If you do a check, you will find out that we have barely 10 surviving national newspapers in the country today. The rest are just managing to keep their heads above the water. Apart from newspapers, there are very few television stations with national spread in Nigeria, when compared with the country’s population.
“For a country with close to 200 million people, this is grossly inadequate. On the other hand, there are thousands of practicing journalists and hundreds of thousands of others who have either graduated and searching for jobs in the industry or in the universities studying mass communication or related courses and are potential applicants in the sector.
“There is therefore the urgent need for the establishment of more media outlets in the country to feed the teeming population with necessary news and information to help them contribute to nation building as well as provide the platforms for practitioners in the industry,” he said.
Similarly, the chairman of the occasion who is also the Managing Director, The Authority newspaper, Mr. Onuorah Madu, said the publisher had thrown a big challenge to journalists to have a second thought on what to do with their lives and career in an industry where majority of the practitioners live in abject poverty.
“Nobody cares about journalists. As important as training is, our employers don’t send us on trainings because they don’t want us to be good to ourselves, they don’t want us to acquire expertise and become managers. Most of us don’t have retirement plans for the next five to 10 years.
“I therefore see the establishment of African Leadership Scorecard by Bonaventure Melah, as a welcome challenge and wake-up call to all of us. As a journalist, please go and train yourself because your employer has no interest in you or your wellbeing,” he said.
In his remark, the Chairman of NUJ FCT Council, Mr. Emmanuel Ogbeche, who commended Melah for stepping into a very difficult terrain, however, expressed confidence that with combination of the publisher’s courage and discipline the project would be a success.