Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday said with their poor remuneration, journalists in the country will find it impossible to live a meaningful life.
The vice president, who also lamented the depth of private sector’s disrespect for the implementation of national minimum wage, made the remarks at the end of the year seminar organised by the State House Press Corps, with the theme: “Journalists and Retirement Plans.”
According to him, although remunerations were generally poor in the country, the case of journalists is more pathetic because many media owners make good profit but deliberately refuse to pay journalists well and as at when due.
Disclosing that himself and President Muhammadu Buhari also earn poor remunerations, he said he earns about N1.5 million monthly while the president earns about N1.75 million, which he said were not commensurate with the burdens of their respective offices.
He recalled his brief experiences while working with some media houses as a legal adviser, disclosing that throughout the period, he was never paid his deserved fees.
He also lamented that entry requirements into journalism had never been enforced by professional bodies, pointing out that several untrained persons find their ways into the profession.
He also observed that the advent of social media had had adverse effects on journalism.
“I realised first of all that this is not a profession from which one could make a decent living in the first place unless you find a really good way of doing so.
“But more importantly for me was the fact that you are just on your own. Journalism as a profession is so wide open.
“There are a few reasons in my view why remuneration is poor and why those in the media especially those who are formally engaged… I will show you that it is not your profession and why that is the case.
“The first is that it is just simply cheating. There are owners of media that are just cheats. They just want to get something from nothing and that is not uncommon, it is a general malaise. It is not necessarily restricted to the media.
“It is also the same in the legal profession. There many lawyers, if they tell you what they earn, you will certainly not want to be a lawyer.
“The private sector does not respect the minimum wage. Even if a minimum wage is set nationally, it is not necessarily respected by the private sector and this is something that should be factored into the status of a company and whether a company is even complying with the requirements.
“In other places, these are points which are checked when you are being considered for task, whether you are meeting your task or not. That is not the case here. So, we need to enforce that.
“We need to enforce some kind of adherence to the minimum wage structure. Not just the minimum wage of the lowest paid person, but minimum wages across the board especially so that there is certain amount of regulation of how people are paid and how they are paid.
“Entry into journalism is not vigorously enforced. Most professions are able to pay better because there are entry requirements that are rigorously enforced. Perhaps not the case in journalism and for good reason.
“There are those who are formally trained as journalists but the profession will admit anybody at all even if you are not formally trained as a journalist and that is even becoming more so now with social media platforms, with blogs.”
Osinbajo also lamented the failure of professional bodies to take up media organisations which fail to pay their staff well and regularly too.
In his submission, Chairman of the occasion and Governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Al-Makura, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Information, Mohammed Kwara, said a good retirement plan begins from the day one is employed.
In his presentation, the guest lecturer and Chairman of Elumelu Foundation, Tony Elumelu, said retirement should not be synonymous with being tired or giving up but should be a stepping stone.
According to him, journalists should pursue their passion with zeal in preparation for the next phase of their lives.
“Entrepreneurship is not a function of age. Set your milestones and work towards accomplishing the milestone.
“Entrepreneurs are resilient, they persevere to succeed. You don’t need to give up easily. It requires sacrifice, discipline,” he said.