By Sun Ani, Lagos
A senior correspondent with the Daily Sun Newspapers, Chinelo Obogo, has emerged as the winner of an essay competition organised during the first annual GYB seminar for crime and politics reporters.
The competition, which had over 50 entries, took place in the course of the seminar which was held on Friday, July 9 and Saturday, July 10 in Abuja.
Participants were asked to write either on ‘Insecurity facing the country: Causes and solutions’ or ‘Rotational presidency: To be discarded or be included in the 1999 constitution.’
A panel made up of four journalists comprising the Manager, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Benin, Mrs Bimbo Oyetunde, Mr Emeka Madunagu, This Day columnist, Mr Eddy Odivwri and Managing Director, Flip TV, Mr Biodun Kupoluyi, was tasked with the responsibility of marking the scripts.
On the criteria used to determine the winner, Mr Madunagu said: ‘We looked at those who observed the rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation. We also looked at the way the writers expressed their thoughts logically and coherently.
‘Most importantly, the winner used facts and data to buttress her points properly, outlining the causes of insecurity and giving practical solutions based on available and verifiable figures. The winner’s script met all the criteria we were looking for in a good essay. I told people around me not to start writing stories. I advised them to go straight to the point, be coherent and be mindful of the rules of grammar.
‘Each member of the panel went through each script and we all agreed on the marks to be awarded. When we saw the winner’s script, we unanimously agreed that it was what we were looking for in a good essay.’
In her comment, the winner said she was surprised when one of the facilitators announced that there was going to be an essay competition because none of the participants was told about it beforehand.
She said: ‘The essay competition came as a surprise to us and there wasn’t time to really research on the chosen topic. Before we came for this training, we were not told that there would be an essay competition, so no one really prepared for it, but we did it and some of us came out victorious. I’m excited and this will only spur me to put in more effort in my job.’
President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors Mustapha Isa, in his opening remarks, highlighted the importance of the media in nation-building and urged journalists not to fail in discharging their responsibility with utmost professionalism while keeping the unity of the country in mind.
Presenting a paper titled ”Reporting Nigeria for Nigeria,” the Editor-in-Chief, Leadership Newspaper, Mr Azubuike Ishiekwene, said it is the responsibility of the media to investigate and report facts without bias. He also reminded the participants of the importance of improving their skills by getting training and working hard so as to produce very good reports. He pointed out the challenges faced by the media in Nigeria and said that one of the values a country should have is a free and fearless press that is not afraid to speak truth to power.
National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chris Isiguzo, in his paper titled “2023 Elections: Journalists as agenda setters,” said it is the responsibility of the media to set the agenda and shape political discourse in a way that would benefit the nation.
He urged the media not to leave agenda-setting to politicians, but to ensure that only very important issues are at the forefront of national discourse.
At the end of the training, the Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello, who was present at the event, urged the media to always keep the unity of Nigeria in mind while reporting. He also said that agenda-setting should not be left to politicians but that the media should be at the forefront of shaping discussions that would be beneficial to the country.
He later presented the prize to Obogo, the overall winner of the essay competition. Anule Emmanuel emerged as the first runner up while Mudiaga Affe of This Nigeria Newspaper was the second runner up.
Precious Igbonwelundu of The Nation, Chiemelie Eze of This Day, Wale Ajayi of Leadership and Ken Ofoma of New Telegraph Newspaper were among the participants who received consolation prizes.