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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Newswatch Bags Four NMMA Awards

Written by Godfrey Azubike

Two Newswatch editors were among the award winners at the recent Nigeria Media Merit Awards' ceremony in Enugu
For a magazine that will be marking its 25th anniversary in two months time, Newswatch had long come to be noted for excellence and success. Winning laurels has become for it a feature of its existence and an attestation of its pre-eminent position as Nigeria’s leading newsmagazine.
On November 21, in Enugu, at an event marked to celebrate media excellence in Nigeria, Newswatch again proved its mettle by carting home four awards. The feat was accomplished by Chris Ajaero, assistant general editor, and Emmanuel Uffot, assistant editor. The duo won two awards each at the Nigeria Media Merit Awards, NMMA, held at the Nike Lake Hotel and Resort, Abakpa Nike, Enugu, that Saturday.
Ajaero won the Cecil King print journalist of the year prize as well as the Chevron Nigeria prize for Oil and Gas reporter. Uffot emerged tops in the Intercontinental Bank prize for Capital Market Reporter of the year and the Aviation Industry Reporter of the year category. They both got certificates of honour as well as cash prizes for their efforts.
Ajaero got additional laptop from Chevron, sponsors of the oil and gas award category. Taiwo Idowu of Chevron presented the gift to Ajaero. It was indeed a brilliant performance by the two Newswatch staff. The award has added to their trophy house. They both are past winners of the NMMA awards.
Ajaero first won the NMMA investigative reporter of the year in 2006, followed by the political reporter award in 2007 as well as five different DAME awards, a separate award body, while Uffot, who joined Newswatch in 2007, also clinched the Agric/Environment reporter in 2001 before later winning two DAME awards: Aviation reporter of the year 2003 and Capital Market reporter of the year 2004.
Other journalists also won laurels at the Enugu event. The roll-call began with the pronouncement of Olusola Fabiyi of Punch as winner of the Abubakar Imam prize for Newspaper Features Writer, followed by Lateef Ololade of Nationnewspapers who won the Entertainment Reporter award. Others include Lookman Ajisegiri of TELL, the news photographer of the year; Salif Atojoko of Broad Street Journal, the Money Market reporter of the year; Chukwuma Muanya of The Guardian, the newspaper reporter of the year; Shaun Igbalode of IT and Telecom Digest, the telecommunications reporter of the year and Stella Sawyer of TELL, the Agriculture Reporter of the year and female reporter of the year.
Sina Fadare emerged tops in the Culture and Tradition category; Kunle Solaja won the sport writer of the year while Chikodi Okereocha of Broad Street Journalwas voted the Education reporter and Industry reporter of the year, respectively. Like Ajaero, Okereocha also got a brand new laptop from British American Tobacco, sponsors of the industry category as well as a camera from MTN, for emerging the runners-up in the telecommunications category. In all, Broad Street Journal won eight awards while TELL got five.
TELL also won the newsmagazine of the year award while The Guardian, Channels TV and 93.7 Rhythm were adjudged the newspaper of the year, the Television Station of the year and Radio Station of the year, in that order.
Deji Badmus of Channels won the Cadbury Prize for TV reporter of the year; Ogundimu Olayinka of Silverbird carted home the Television Production of the Year prize; Seun Olagunju of AIT was voted the newscaster of the year while Momoh Kubanje of Radio Continental beat other contestants to clinch the Radio presenter of the Year Prize. Unfortunately, Kubanje, a star presenter, was not around to savour his moment of glory. He died few weeks to the NMMA event. A minute’s silence was held in his honour.
Apart from Newswatch’s four awards, the magazine was also nominated in two other categories. Sebastine Obasi, the magazine’s senior staff writer, and Anthony Akaeze, principal staff writer, were among the three nominees in the banking and finance and sport categories that were won by Solaja of Soccer Star and Raymond Mordi of Broad Street Journal.
Alade Odunewu, board chairman of NMMA, in his speech, said the NMMA awards were instituted to promote media excellence and foster unity in the country. He challanged journalists not to shirk their responsibility of holding government accountable to the people.
Tony Momoh, former information minister, who was the chairman of the NMMA award nominating panel, informed the audience that the panel that vetted the entries was inaugurated on May 12, and submitted its final report on July 14. The evaluation covered works published in 2008. Momoh enjoined journalists to always strive to improve on their performance to attain excellence.
The NMMA award night was the culmination of a three-day event that began a day earlier when the cream of Nigerian journalists landed in the town fondly called the “Coal City.” But things didn’t quite work out as planned, as the event could not begin as scheduled. The award presentation that was billed to commence at 6:00 p.m. could not start until some minutes past 10 p.m. The long delay was due to the absence of officials of the Enugu State govenment led by Sullivan Chime, the governor. For more than four hours, the audience was kept waiting.