Covid-19: NPAN delaying FG support to newspaper houses – Minister

Minister of Information & Culture, Lai Mohammed

By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau

Determined to alleviate the economic hardship faced by the print media due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the federal government has again expressed its readiness to provide support to newspaper houses in Nigeria to stay afloat.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this Monday while briefing State House Correspondents after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

Mohammed, who revealed that the government had already done a few things to intervene in the broadcast subsector of the industry, added that government is waiting for the the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) to come forward with a submission on how government could help.

“Government has done a lot for the media, especially the broadcast industry, during this pandemic. The first thing we did was to give a waiver of two months payment of license fees to all broadcast houses, between May and July, after which we gave an amnesty as 60% discount or debt forgiveness, for all broadcast houses, except the Pay TVs, and also slashed by 30% the licensing fees because of the COVID-19.

“I also met with the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, we met virtually and I’m still waiting for them to come and make their submissions.

“Definitely, the government is willing to look into the hardships and the challenges the media is facing and within our means to see how best we can intervene. I’m still waiting for the NPAN to come back to us to see what we can do to ameliorate the situation”, he said.

The Minister also noted that the federal government is serious about developing the entire creative industry, especially because of the huge job opportunity potential it has, adding that President Buhari is particularly interested in the industry.

“This government is putting a lot of emphasis and promoting the creative industry, which is tourism, which is hospitality industry, which is the music industry, which is the film industry, which is publishing, which is broadcasting.

“We’ll continue to support this industry and have the Mr President’s support. He was quite excited about the portrait because he’s able to see what kind of jobs can be created through this cultural festivals”, he said.

Speaking on why he met with President Buhari, the Minister said “I came today to make a presentation of a portrait of the Argungu Festival to Mr President.

“You’ll recall that sometimes in February this year, after almost ten years of hiatus, the Argungu Festival made a comeback. The Argungu Festival is one of the two UNESCO recognised festivals and it’s on the UNESCO list of heritages”, he said.

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