Monday, January 30, 2017 5:02 pm
The Managing Director, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Bayo Onanuga, has called for improved funding of the agency to enable it to effectively discharge its mandate.
Onanuga made the call when he received Sen. Ali Wakili, Chairman of Senate Committee on Poverty Alleviation at NAN headquarters on Monday in Abuja.
He said that funding constraints were limiting the agency’s operations, especially in effective coverage of events in and outside the country in line with its obligation.
He stated that adequate funding of the agency would enable it to compete favourably with similar organisations in other countries, adding that paucity of funds had also affected the maintenance of NAN’s local and international offices.
According to him, it is not that the agency does not have the model to carry out its mandate but it has been battling with declining budget.
“We are grossly underfunded and we cannot fulfil our mandate the way other foreign news agencies like those in Russia, France and Reuters have done.
“We don’t have the money to send journalists abroad when there are events which our nation has interest.
“Recently, we needed funds to send journalists to The Gambia or Senegal to cover the political crisis in Gambia, but we were held down by lack of fund; we were, however, helped out by the Air Force.
“We couldn’t have carried our reporters to Senegal, and it would have been embarrassing that the News Agency of Nigeria did not cover it.
“Even, now in Gabon that we are holding a continental competition, the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), NAN is not there, but we ought to be there,’’ Onanuga said.
He, therefore, urged the National Assembly and other stakeholders to assist the agency to strengthen its operations, assuring that funds appropriated to it would be prudently managed.
Earlier, Sen. Wakili had said that the national assembly was ready to assist NAN in areas that would enhance its performance, including amendment of the law establishing the agency.
“I challenge you to look into the Act establishing NAN and see if there is a need to amend any of the clauses.
“Sometimes, the enabling Act establishing some of these agencies may not be in tandem with current realities. Such agencies can come up with initiative on how the Act establishing them can be amended.
“I can assure you that we in the national assembly will do our best to assist NAN to become one of the best in the world,’’ he said.
The lawmaker commended NAN for its objectivity in news reportage and urged it not to relent.