A CORRESPONDENT with The Guardian, Chukwuma Muanya, has emerged the newspaper journalist of the year. This was disclosed at the 2013 Nigeria Media Merit Award held on Saturday in Ikogosi, Ekiti State.
Another journalist with The Guardian, Olawunmi Ojo, won the Ibrahim Shekarau Prize for Education Reporter of the year. Ojo’s “Yaba ‘University’ of Technology: A dream in limbo” gave him the award.
Muanya won the Ernest Sisei Ikoli for Newspaper Reporter of the Year and Cecil King Memorial Prize for Print Journalist of the Year.
His story “Deaths from measles drop, anti-malaria project threatened”, beat The Nation and National Mirror to win the coveted Ernest Sisei Ikoli Prize for Newspaper Reporter of the Year. Muanya again defeated the TELL’s duo of Adejuwon Soyinka and Mordi Raymond to win the Cecil King Memorial Prize for Print Journalist of the Year with the story “When ignorance, ill-equipped hospitals complicate breast cancers in Nigeria.”
The Guardian also did well in other individual awards, narrowly losing the News Photographer of the Year to Sunday Olufemi of TELL. Ayodele Adeniran Olushola and Emmanuel Arewa of The Guardian were the first and second runners-up in that category.
Also, the Assistant Lagos City Editor, Temitope Templer Olaiya, finished first runner-up in two categories namely Bukola Saraki Prize for Agriculture Reporter of the Year and Nigerite Prize for Real Estate/Construction Reporter of the Year with the stories “Mile 12 Market and the ugly story of food waste” and “Jakande Estates: A lofty idea crippled by neglect.”
At the event which attracted leaders of the media industry, The Nation was declared winner of the Babatunde Jose Prize for Newspaper of the Year while Channels Television won the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Award for Electronic Media.
Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi described the nation’s media as a vital tool of peace and development.
The governor, who lauded the media practitioners for their courage and untiring efforts, said: “Yours is a profession charged with the noble responsibility of informing and enlightening the public and carrying out oversight of the social and political processes of the society.
“The Nigerian press has come of age as the beacon of hope and renewal in our national experience.
“Despite the various challenges that appear to have come to bear upon it in more recent times, the Nigerian media has always been at the progressive vanguard of an ethos that continually seeks to advance and preserve the cause of our society, its systems and the institutions from its earliest incarnation to the present.
“I have equally observed, first-hand, how a vibrant and effective, particularly print media, can crusade against injustice and lend its weight behind the cause of truth, whilst advocating the best for the good of the people.
“This has been the honourable tradition upon which the media has thrived through the years in our environment.
“Being the only formal institution granted an oversight function on government, its activities, organs and departments in the Nigerian Constitution through several decades, the media has a very sacred role in enabling the attainment of the Nigeria of our aspirations…
“The Nigeria Media Merit Award is considered as one of the most reputable prizes for media excellence in our country, instituted by some of the great veterans of the Nigerian press to encourage and reward distinction in the practice of journalism, while promoting a symbiotic relationship between the media industry and the society…”
Recalling his role during the military era as a broadcaster at Radio Kudirat, he said: “I have always considered myself as a student and practitioner of journalism having had a stint both in print and electronic media…”
Describing the NMMA as a celebration of media excellence in the country, he said: “It is a celebration of remarkable openness that our country has achieved where journalists can carry out their duties to some extent without the fear of intimidation.
“Three years ago, you probably wouldn’t have considered coming to Ekiti. It is no longer a state of one week one trouble. Stability is the rule of the game now in Ekiti State. Evidence of our work abounds in our infrastructural drive.”