Chika Abanobi, Associate Editor of The Sun emerged winner of the Olusegun Mimiko Prize for the Foreign News Reporter of the Year, at the 27th edition of the Nigeria Media Merit Award held at the MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos, on Sunday, December 15, 2019.
He defeated Adebowale Julius of New Telegraph and Okwy Iroegbu Chikezie of The Nation newspapers, to clinch the prestigious prize. His story entitled Flipside of the American Dream: Saturday Sun reporter’s odyssey among the US poor and homeless: Lessons for travel-eager Nigerians, published in the Saturday Sun of June 9, 2018, was adjudged the best in the category over Adebowale’s Kenya: One country, two presidents and Chikezie’s ECOWAS: Protocols under xenophobia threat.
Abanobi, one-time Head of the Education Desk of The Sun newspapers (2008-2017), has in the past won journalism awards. They include 1st Runner-Up, Promasidor Quill Awards for Journalists (2013, CSR category) and The Sun Special Recognition Award for his innovative reporting of education news.
Also, nominated for the award under Nnamdi Azikiwe Cartoonist of the Year was The Sun’s deputy cartoon editor, Gabriel Arapi, with his entry entitled Move on joor, com’n move. Their entries were among those that made the final selection list out of 671 submitted entries across 39 categories, in the print category.
In his speech giving a breakdown of the entries received, the Chairman, NMMA Panel of Assessors, Ralph Akinfelye revealed that while the body received the 671 entries from 457 entrants, in Radio Category, 29 entrants submitted 37 entries across six categories. In the television category, 34 entrants submitted 44 entries.
According to him, although the assessors were delighted that there was an increase in the number of entries, compared to the previous year, he, however, expressed concern that the quality of some of the entries received this year was poor, especially with regard to their depth of investigation and use of language. Those who won this year scored 70 and above and where none of the entries did not meet the required criteria no winner emerged.
For instance, although there were nominees for the Buba Marwa Prize for Defence Reporter of the Year, no winner was named in the category as the judges said the entries did not meet some criteria.
Media leadership awards were also presented to Chief Olusegun Osoba, a former governor of Ogun State, Dr. Biodun Shobanjo an advertising guru and Chairman of Troyka Group, Mallam Isma’ila Isa Funtua, a life patron of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria and Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, a former Editor-in-Chief of Daily Times.
Dignitaries who witnessed the award ceremony include Chief Niyi Adebayo, a former governor of Ekiti State, Senator Daisy Danjuma, who represented her husband, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.) and members of the diplomatic corp.
Sources say that President Muhammadu Buhari, the Grand Patron of the Nigeria Media Merit Award may likely host winners of this year’s edition, at a date to be announced by the management.
The Nigeria Media Merit Award, reputed to be the foremost media excellence scheme and most prestigious annual celebration of the best in the media industry was founded in 1990.