• The Sun’s Ayodele Ojo joins Wole Soyinka laureates, wins NMMA prize
By Simeon Mpamugoh
The sun shone on a photojournalist with The Sun Publishing Limited, Ayodele Ojo, recently. He was among journalists celebrated as winners in the 12th edition of the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting. The event took place at NECA House, Ikeja, Lagos.
Ojo emerged winner in the photo category. The photojournalist shone like a star as he walked to the podium to receive his award. The master of ceremonies likened his attire, a red blazer and black trousers with shimmering shoes, to the sun shining in the night. His entry was captioned “Law of Jackboot.”
The image was that of two soldiers who boarded a mini-bus (danfo) and claimed to be “staff” so as not to pay the transport fare. When the conductor insisted on collecting the fare, the soldiers grabbed him, wrestled him to the ground and pummelled him thoroughly.
Ojo attributed his victory to persistence and determination.
“This is my third attempt. The first one was in 2015, where I got a commendation certificate. In 2016, I was runner-up and this year I won it. The photo was taken when I went for an event in Ekiti State,” he said.
A week later, Ojo was also named winner in the news photography category at the 2017 edition of the prestigious Nigeria Media Merit Awards (NMMA). Last year, he won five different awards for his proficiency in photojournalism.
At the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting, Adekunle Yusuf of The Nation Newspaper was the overall winner and 2017 WSCIJ-Nigeria investigative reporter of the year. Kemi Busari of the Premium Times, Fisayo Soyombo of The Cable, Mojeed Alabi of New Telegraph, Kolawole Aliyu of Leadership, and Ayodele Adeniran of The Guardian were also celebrated on the night.
Former minister of education and senior economic advisor, African Economic Development Initiative, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, and the executive director, Media Rights Agenda, Edetaen Ojo, were also celebrated at the event, after winning in various categories
Ezekwesili won the Lifetime Anti-corruption Defender Award for her contributions to the fight against corruption, having advocated due process as former education minister during the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
Edetaen Ojo was honoured with the Lifetime Award for Journalistic Excellence for ensuring the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill, which was signed into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011.
The award brand’s new introduction, Special Prize for Reporting Food Security and Agriculture, went to the features editor, Daily Trust, Mr. Tadaferua Ujorha, whose entry was captioned “Local Rice: The bitter, sweet side of an economy driven by women.”
Some print and online journalists whose works didn’t make it to the finals received commendations. They included Chinwe Adaeze and Ebere Ndukwu.
Prof. Lai Osho commended the entries, adding that this year’s edition witnessed an improvement in the quality of entries submitted to the jury than last year.
Nobel laureate and grand patron of the awards, Prof. Wole Soyinka, described the event as a very good signal for the battle against corruption.
He said that he had wanted to detach his name from the award brand owing to what he considered the irresponsible reportage of his United States Green Card issue following the election of President Donald Trump.
Ezekwesili, who was visibly excited as she received her award from Prof. Ropo Sekoni, said that there was no greater honour than one given by peers.
The organisers said the award was meant to encourage the development of an investigative tradition in the Nigerian media through rigorous scrutiny of human rights violations, regulatory failures and corruption in the public and corporate sectors of the nation’s life.