Daily Trust (Abuja)

9 December 2012

Nigeria: Journalists Redeployed to Ministries By Kwara Govt Resume Work

Journalists and non editorial members of the Kwara state owned media organizations who were recently redeployed by the state government to ministries in the state have resumed work in the respective ministries they were posted to Sunday Trust gathered.

One of the affected journalists who spoke to our reporter said many of the affected staff agreed to resume work in the ministries they were posted to because they have reached an understanding with government on its position in his words. "If it's about improvement in our welfare, repositioning of the organisations and prompt payment of our salary we think government was in the right direction".

He said after considering government position, the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists [NUJ] agreed that the affected workers should comply with government directive.

It would be recalled that when government announced the decision to redeploy the staff of its own media organizations the state chapter of the NUJ rose against it claiming it was an absurd and lopsided exercise and ordered government to reverse it.

The NUJ in a statement jointly issued by its Chairman, Comrade Biodun Abdulkkareem and Secretary, Comrade Bisi Adedayo, posited that the redeployment of members of the union working in the state-owned media organizations to the Ministry of Information & Communication, to say the least, "is absurd and lopsided."

But the State Government insisted it has the power to right-size the workforce of the government-owned media in the state to enable them perform optimally. The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Chief Tunji Morounfoye, while responding to questions on activities of his ministry at the state House of Assembly said the step became necessary to ensure effective service delivery.

He, however, stressed that government was not trying to sack workers, saying those to be affected would be deployed to other places where they would be more relevant. He attributed overstaffing in the state-owned media to political influence. Morounfoye had argued that right-size of workers of government-owned media, does not mean that government wants to downsize or sack people but to move them to places where they will be productive. He said the exercise was part of government's plans to reposition state-owned media.

He restated government's commitment to repositioning Kwara State Television and The Herald newspapers to ensure efficient and effective service delivery in the corporations. "It is our contention that these thoroughbred media practitioners deployed to the ministry, will not only be relegated to the background, but will be redundant at their new place of assignments.

"Without prejudice to the 'good intention' of government, it is only expected that the committee will redeploy the 'dead woods' who contribute little or nothing to the production processes." He said

But the Union had questioned the refusal of government to pay the four-month salary arrears owed the staffers of the Kwara State Publishing & Printing Corporation (KPPC), publishers of The Herald titles as well as the non-implementation of the new national minimum wage to the staff of Kwara Television Service as enjoyed by all public servants in the federation today.

It, therefore, called on government through the Head of Service's committee, to reverse the action with a view to ensuring the continued cordial relationship between the Union and government.

It urged the committee to identify the idle hands that are not contributing anything meaningful to the production processes for the redeployment exercise.

However, it commended the government for the prompt release of additional funds for the completion of the new Press Centre in the state.

Commenting on this, one of the affected journalists commended government for not resorting to retrenchment of any media worker in the state. He said the redeployment exercises carried out by the committee saddled with the responsibility through the office of the Head of Service will only help to improve the welfare of the affected staff. "I think it's good that we have agreed to accept government directive because in the long run it will not only benefit us but the state as well," he said.

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