Journalists and guests after the event.

By Marie-Therese Nanlong

Jos – Journalists have been tasked to take seriously their safety and mental well-being as they carry out their duties as they cannot afford to leave anything to chance in the changing media landscape.

They were also urged to diversify and engage in other meaningful ventures that could sustain them to avoid falling into penury that would distort their calling as the custodians of truth in society.

The pieces of advice came on Thursday when the members of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Plateau State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ organized a prayer session in memory of eight of their colleagues who died in 2007 due to an accident in the convoy of the former Governor the State, Joshua Dariye.

Recall that the deceased, Isaac Agbo, Moses Ezulike, James Avre, Musa Nuhu, Judith Adama, Emmanuel Adinoyi, Sudan Lar, and Reuben who were staff of The Nation, Champion, Leadership, NAN, New Nigerian, AIT, NTA, and the Federal Ministry of Information respectively accompanied Dariye to commission his projects in the Southern Zone of the State when the accident occurred.

Delivering a keynote address, Associate Professor Taye Obateru of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Jos who at that time was the State Correspondent of Vanguard Newspapers stated that the event which occurred 17 years ago is a memorable one that should jolt journalists to give a long thought on personal safety, security, and mental wellbeing.

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He stated, “Take personal responsibility for your safety because no one would do it for you… You must be alive and healthy to be able to report and not to be reported. It is becoming increasingly risky to be a journalist in Nigeria. Our lives are seriously endangered. We face mental and emotional hazards, we must take personal responsibility for our safety. We must be prepared to refuse assignments when our safety is not guaranteed.”

Obateru urged journalists not to rely solely on grossly inadequate remuneration but to consider other honest sources of income for survival as the brown envelope syndrome is insulting to journalism.

In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the Correspondents’ Chapel, Polycarp Auta said “The essence of the gathering is to remember and pray for the repose of the souls of our colleagues who died in the incident on May 16, 2007.

“It is also an opportunity to remind ourselves of the need to take precautionary measures towards ensuring our safety. It is an opportunity to call on government and media proprietors to prioritize the welfare of journalists.”

The State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Musa Ashoms; the representative of former Governor Dariye; Gideon Mitu, the National Auditor of NUJ, Ladi Emmanuel, the former State Chairman of NUJ, Katdapba Gobum, the State Chairman of NUJ, Ayuku Pwaspo through her Vice, Pam Musa, and a survivor of the accident, Associate Professor Monday Goteng who was with NAN at the time of the incident also spoke at the event.

However, special prayers were offered by Christian and Islamic clerics for journalists, survivors, and the deceased families.

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