Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Solomon Dalung has compared Nigerian journalists to wheel-barrow, lamenting that their efforts are not well appreciated.
He spoke Tuesday when he visited members of the State House Press Corps to condole with them over the death of Chukwuma Onuekwusi.
He said: “Looking at the role journalists play even in entrenching this democracy, I don’t think and believe that they had actually been accommodated within the structure with which they sought to build.
“I believe that the absence of journalists in the present democratic experiment is also one of the major factors with which we have not appreciated them much.
“Anybody who participated in the struggle for democracy in this country would know the role journalists played.
“Many lost their lives in the struggle, but unfortunately, when democracy finally came what has actually become of journalism is the Wheel-Barrow Theory.
“The wheel-barrow is a very important tool that has no garage, it is kept in the sun and under the rain but when there is the need for you to convey any bag of either garri or rice, you rush, you dust it and use it and return it to where you kept it.
“It is unfortunate, we need to begin to appreciate contributions in this country before we will take our bearing properly, our reward system is fundamentally faulty.
“At the end of the day when you phase out as Chukwuma has done, we are only now left with storytelling.
“The state chapel here and the Nigerian Union of Journalists will now be left as the final constituency to be responsible for him, his family and his little kids and how far can they go.
“So, I am of the opinion that we must look at our laws and entrench a very solid reward system to guarantee contributions of key actors like journalists.
“The news came to me as a devastating blow because he never exhibited signs or symptoms of sickness. So I couldn’t comprehend actually what could have been the circumstances that led to his demise.
“I was even imagining it could have been an accident. But indeed, it wasn’t. It is a great loss not only to the State House Chapel but to Nigeria in general.
“We have lost a rare gem and I believe that the vacuum his exit created may not be occupied too easily.
“It is my sincere and honest prayers that the Lord God, the custodian of human destiny and source will grant him paradise. May his soul rest in perfect peace.”