Journalists were the cynosure of all eyes at this year’s Nigerian Breweries Golden Pen Awards which took place in Lagos over the weekend. The event which is reputed to be one of the biggest award platforms in Nigeria for journalists was dominated by New Telegraph reporters who took home the top prizes in two of the only three categories.
Isioma Madike, a veteran of many reputable awards, was the big winner of the night as he was named the NB Golden Pen Reporter of the Year, with a cash prize of N2million as reward, alongside a Samsung iPad. The recognition was a fitting reward for his classic piece of journalistic excellence as expressed in his investigative news story about the agro-revolution taking place at the Zimbabwean run Shoanga in Kwara State.
Madike was closely followed in the category by Arukaino Umukoro of Punch Newspapers while Caleb Ojewale of BusinessDay clinched the second runner-up position. Mojeed Alabi, another journalist from New Telegraph won the ‘NB Report of the Year’.
The Photo Journalist of the Year award went to Olatunji Obasa of Punch Newspapers. Suleiman Hussaini also of the New Telegraph emerged as the first runner-up, while Toluwani Eniola of Punch Newspapers was the second runner-up.
According to Nigerian Breweries Managing Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Johan Doyer, the award, which is the 9th in the series, is aimed at promoting professionalism and objective reportage of events in the country. It is also meant to reward journalists who abide by the ethics of the journalism profession in their professional practice.
Mr. Doyer, noted that the choice of the theme for the award “Agriculture, Local Sourcing and Industrial Development” was directed to align with Nigeria’s current push for economic recovery and growth.
This, he said, was hinged on the expectation that the media, in its agenda-setting role, will exploit the Nigerian Breweries Golden Pen Awards to draw attention of stakeholders to the key sectors required to drive economic revival.
“To us, these three areas – Agriculture, Local Sourcing and Industrial Development are jointly critical in Nigeria’s quest to achieve her full potential and become a self-reliant nation,” he said.
Doyer also acknowledged the role of the media in the successes recorded over the last nine years with the Awards and thanked the panel of judges who rigorously analysed the entries for originality, credibility and factuality.
The guest speaker at the occasion, Mr. Ray Ekpu, thanked Nigerian Breweries for the initiative and called for soul-searching by the media who he urged to bridge the gap between training and practice.
Ekpu, a former Editor-in-Chief of the defunct Newswatch Magazine and Chairman of May Five Publications recalled that before crude oil was discovered in commercial quantity in 1958, agriculture was the mainstay of the economy and produced food and prosperity for the nation.
He challenged the press to support the efforts to domesticate the Nigerian economy, maintaining that Nigerian Breweries has set a worthy example on how to grow agriculture and local industry.
The Deputy Governor of Lagos State Dr. Oluranti Adebule, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Deputy Governor’s Office, Mrs. Yetunde Odejayi, lauded Nigerian Breweries for the initiative and described the theme as apt and timely in the journey to restructure the economy.
Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, Managing Director of Tanus Communications and Chairman of the Panel of Judges commended Nigerian Breweries for the initiative and enjoined journalists to aspire to the highest standards.
He maintained that the quality and quantity of entries have improved significantly and noted that Nigerian Breweries has set a standard for other organizations to follow.
The event attracted other dignitaries from the political and media circles including the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who was represented by Ajayi Kehinde and the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
Others were the Secretary to the Lagos State Government, Mr. Tunji Bello, who was represented by Adekunle Olayinka and the Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, represented by Mrs. Clara Ebota.
All the winning journalists got cash prizes and special NB Golden Pen Awards statuette as part of the reward package. The top three winners also got high-end work tools as part of their prizes.