A Thought for Fallen Pens as Journalists Gathered to Seek God’s Shield against Work Hazards

The Holy Books are replete with exhortations for followers to pray always. Prayer is a potent weapon in the hands of believers. This underscores the importance of prayer as a shield against life’s spiritual and physical hazards. In the face of daily threats confronting journalists locally and globally, the members of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Plateau State Council, converged on the Press Centre in Jos, to offer prayers to seek God’s protection upon their lives, reports Ralph Madugu

It was a moment of solemnity as members of the pen profession in Plateau State under the umbrella of the Correspondents’ Chapel, dropped their pens, cameras and notebooks to pray for themselves, seek God’s protection and remember their colleagues who lost their lives in an accident in the line of duty 17 years ago.

The event held at the Press Centre in Jos, Plateau State brought together journalists from both print and electronic including the new media.

It would be recalled that in May 2007 some journalists in the convoy of former Governor Joshua Dariye, were involved in an auto crash that claimed the lives of 8 journalists along Yelwa-Shendam road while on an official trip to cover the commissioning of some projects.

The event allowed media practitioners to educate and remind themselves of the importance of always adhering to safety measures while carrying out their duties.

Faces of some of the journalists who died in the accident

Speaking during the event, a lecturer with the Department of Mass Communication, University of Jos, Professor Taye Obateru advised media practitioners to always “take personal responsibility for their safety and welfare,” in the line of duty.

He said, “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.”

Making a specific case for journalists’ welfare, the university don submitted that the well-being of journalists was the well-being of society.

Describing the ‘brown envelope syndrome’ as an insult to the profession, Obateru cautioned journalists against relying on remunerations that are not forthcoming and sustainable as according to him, poor remuneration of journalists has become a global phenomenon, hence the need for media practitioners to remain ethical in discharging their responsibilities and “consider other honest sources of income” to survive.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, Plateau State Chairman of the Correspondents’ Chapel, Mr. Polycarp Auta disclosed that the event was to seek God’s protection for all journalists in the state.

Cross section of journalists who attended the prayer session

Said he: “The essence of the gathering was to remember and pray for the repose of the souls of our colleagues who died in the ill-fated incident in 2007.

“It is also an opportunity to remind ourselves of the need to take precautionary measures towards ensuring the safety of all journalists.

“It is also an opportunity for us to call on government and media proprietors to make the welfare of journalists a priority.”

In a goodwill message, State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Musa Ashoms said the state government was in solidarity with the Chapel and assured that the government would synergize with the Chapel to come to the aid of the deceased families.

From L-R is the Chairman of the Correspondents’ Chapel-Polycarp Auta flanked by Prof. Obateru and and other guests who joined in the prayers including the State Comm. for Information and Communication-Musa Ashoms

“It was quite unfortunate that our colleagues died the way they did.  It is good to have fond memories of our friends.”

There were goodwill messages from former Governor Joshua Dariye, one-time State Chairman of the NUJ, Katdapba Gobum and the current National Internal Auditor of the NUJ, Ladi Emmanuel.

Highpoint of the event was a special prayer for journalists, survivors and the deceased families by an Islamic and a Christian cleric.

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