THE Tribune titles continued its panache for winning media awards by carting away three key awards at this year’s edition of the Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA) held at the Banquet Hall of the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, last Sunday.
Nigerian Tribune, at the 24th edition of the awards, dazed its competitors and proved its dominance as the longest surviving private newspaper in Nigeria by winning the Columnist of the Year, Political Reporter of the Year and the Investigative Reporter of the Year awards.
For many nominees who thronged the hall, expectations were high while the suspense was rife. The hall was relatively quiet as the delay in the commencement of the programme that had been slated for 5:00 p:m but did not start until 7:00 pm almost dampened the morale of the nominees who had arrived at the venue early.
While the awardees waited, the co-anchor of the event – an On-Air Personality with Wazobia FM, Omotunde Adebowale, popularly known as “Lolo,” sent the audience reeling with laughter, with her breathtaking interjections and comic reliefs.
It was almost 7:30 p:m and the the wait was over. The event commenced in full speed as names of the awardees were called one after the other with many nominees with high expectations.
For the nominees from Nigerian Tribune, it was only a matter of time for them to be declared winners as two of the four categories had already been adjudged the best by the 17-member panel of assessors constituted by the NMMA Board.
Mr Lasisi Olagunju, Editor, Saturday Tribune was calm. There was no point to be apprehensive. He knew he had won as the brochure revealed that he was the only nominee in the Alade Odunewu Prize for Colunmist of the Year.
The story was the same for Segun Adebayo, a Senior Reporter with the Tribune. This was his first time of filing for the awards and his win came with a big statement. The depth of Adebayo’s investigation in his story titled, “Alaba Mafia: The real ‘stars’ of Nigerian music industry,” made him the only qualified nominee for the category. He consequenly won the Alex Ibru Prize for Investigative Reporter of the Year award.
Only Adebayo’s entry met the 70 marks qualifying score to be nominated for award.
For Tribune’s Dare Adekanmbi, who had to slug it out with two nominees from Daily Trust Newspaper for the Lateef Jakande Prize for Political Reporter of the Year, it was a moment that many had to adjust their sitting positions. The category was one that many people had looked forward to and it had all the trappings of a big award.
The hall was silent as the presenters of that category paused for a while before announcing the winner. The depth and content of his four-page piece entitled, ‘If Nigeria is broke, who broke it’ earned him the Lateef Jakande Prize for Political Reporter of the year. Tribune men had won three out of the four categories for which they were nominated.
Tribune Group Business Editor, Mr Sulaiman Olanrewaju, who had won the awards in various categories including Energy and Culture, was first runner-up in the Coca-Cola Nigeria Prize for Brand and Marketing Reporter of the Year award category.
He lost to The Guardian Newspaper’s Chukwuma A. Muanya, who was nominated in the same category twice.
Investigative reportage, detailed political analysis and informed commentary and opinion constitute the greater core of responsible journalism practice globally.
For entries to qualify for nomination and the awards, the authors must score 70 per cent cumulatively from the assessors, a feat journalists from Tribune titles have annually achieved by winning in different categories of the NMMA award, adjudged the best media award in the celebration of excellence in Nigeria’s media industry.
The Nation, New Telegraph, Daily Turst, Punch, also won awards at the event.
Last year, three other reporters of the Nigerian Tribune won awards in three categories. Associate Editor, Mr Adewale Emosu won the 201s Adamu Muazu Prize for Tourism Reporter of the year with his entry, “Bahia: Even in Brazil, African heritage lives on.”
It would be recalled that Emosu, with the same entry, won the CNN/Multichoice African Journalist of the Year award (Culture category).
In the same 2015, Business Editor, Nigerian Tribune, Mr Sulaimon Olanrewaju won the CocaCola prize for Brands and Marketing Reporter of the year, while senior reporter, Aderonke Sanya won the award of “Most Innovative Reporter of the Year.”
Debo Abdulai, Editor, Nigerian Tribune, was nominated as Editor of the Year. The paper was also nominated for Editorial Writing of the Year, Newspaper Reporter of the Year, Education Reporter of the Year, Culture Reporter of the Year, and Human Rights Reporter of the Year.
Meanwhile, in the 2014 edition, Tribune titles also won in four categories of the awards.
Group Business Editor, Mr Olanrewaju won the Peter Odili Prize for Power Reporter of the Year, while Foreign/Online Editor, Mr Seyi Gesinde won the Olusegun Mimiko Prize for Foreign News Reporter of the Year, Mr Wale Olapade won the Adamu Mu’azu Prize for Tourism Reporter of the Year, while Olaoluwa Mimiola won the News Photographer of the Year award.
Tribune reporters had, in 2014, been nominated in eight different categories: Mr Tommy Adegbite (Photographer of the year); Seyi Gesinde (Business Reporter of the Year); Mr Moses Alao (Lateef Jakande Prize for Political Reporter of the Year) and Mr Dare Adekanmbi (Olagunsoye Oyinlola Prize for Culture and Tradition Reporter of the Year).
This year’s NMMA was graced by many dignitaries that included the governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode; former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, among many others.
The chairman of the NMMA Board of Trustees, Mr. Vincent Maduka, an engineer, said the past two years had been very colourful for the media sector, noting that many events over the years had tested the strength of the industry.
Speaking at the event, the chairman of the NMMA Board of Trustees traced the history of the award and its eminence in rewarding excellence among journalists in the country and promised the inclusion of practitioners in the new media genre in the silver jubilee anniversary of the award next year.
Chairman, panel of assessors, Professor Ralph Akinfeleye, disclosed that a total of 894 entries were received by the panel from 656 journalists, a development he said was five per cent short of the entries for last year.
Akinfeleye, who doubles as the Head, Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, lamented that a number of entries lacked the depth sought by assessors. He also noted that sponsorship could not be secured for four categories of the award.