By Tony Edike
THE Chairman, Board of the Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA), Alhaji Alade Odunewu, has said that the annual awards to media professionals was aimed at promoting excellence in the media and foster unity in the media and the society at large.
Alhaji Odunewu, who spoke at the 19th edition of the Media Award at the Nike Lake Resort Hotel, Enugu,Â Saturday night, said despite odds, the organisation had successfully sustained the award since its inception.
He explained that the first 10 editions were held in Lagos where there is a large concentration of the media, but that at the investiture of former President Olusegun Obasanjo as Grand Patron of NMMA, he suggested that the event should rotate to states. This, he said, the organisers did by rotating it among the geo-political zones.
Odunewu added that other geo-political zones had their share before it came to the turn of the South-East, adding that Enugu was chosen based on the position it occupies as the capital of the zone and its contribution to media development.
On the state of the nation, Odunewu said: â€œthe present is bleak and the future is uncertain, people are hungry and are hungry, are now suppliers of electricity to themselves and their own water reservoir,â€
He added that our democracy has, at best, recorded a stunted growth.
Congratulating the award winners, the NMMA Chairman reminded them of one of their cardinal roles as agenda setters, stressing that the media should work to ensure that the election of 2010, especially in Anambra State takes the countryâ€™s democracy further.
Winners of the 19th edition of the award included The Guardian Newspaper which bagged the ‘Newspaper of the year’ while its editor, Debo Adesina, won the ‘Editor of the year’ just as The Punch Newspaper won the prize in Editorial writing.
Tell Magazine won the ‘News Magazine of the year’. “News Photographer of the year’ went to Lukman Ajisejiri of Tell while Chukwuma Muanya ofÂ The Guardian wonÂ the ‘Male Reporter of the year award’.The ‘Female Reporter of the year’ went to Stella Sawyer of Tell Magazine.
Kunle Solaja of Soccer Star won the ‘Sports Reporter of the year.’ Okorocha Chukwudi of Broad Street Journal won the ‘Ibrahim Shekarau Prize for Education Reporter of the year.’
Anayo Agbo of Tell won the prize for ‘Political Reporter of the year’ while the ‘Environment Reporter of the year’ prize went to Temitope Sanyaolu also of Tell.
Raymond Mordi of Broad Street Journal won ‘Banking and Finance Reporter of the year’ while the ‘Entertainment Reporter of the year’ went to Lateef Olulade of The Nation.
Muyiwa Lucas of Broad Street Journal went home with the ‘NPA prize for Maritime Reporter of the year’ while Chris Ajaero ofÂ Newswatch won ‘Oil and Gas Reporter of the year.’ The ‘Power Reporter of the year’ went to Salif Atojoko ofÂ Broad Street Journal.
However, the event which was attended by media chiefs from across the federation, was nearly marred by the long delay in its take-off as the organisers waited endlessly for the arrival of the Enugu State Governor, Mr. Sullivan Chime.
By 6p.m,the guests had sat when the event was billed to take-off and waited till 10.30 pm, when members of the committee decided to call off the opening ceremony activities and went into the award presentations.
Attempts by government officials present including the Secretary to the Enugu State Government, Martin Ilo; Chief of Staff, Ifeoma Nwobodo and some commissioners to save the situation, were rebuffed by the organisers, who reject their offer to represent the governor and went ahead to present the awards without government’s presence.
By the time the event finally commenced, more than half of the guests had left the venue.