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Golden Pen Awards: Celebrating Nigerian Journalists

Over the weekend, the Nigeria Breweries Plc held the seventh edition of its Golden Pen Award to honour journalists who abide by the ethics of the profession. Nwakaego Ohaegbulam who was in attendance captures the mood at the award

It was glitz, glamour full of klieg lights as journalists from diverse mediums gathered together this time around not for the usual press briefing. Rather, it was an atmosphere of laughter with lots to drink and eat as the gentlemen of the press came together under one roof to celebrate their own at the 7th edition of the Nigeria Breweries Plc’s Golden Pen Awards which took place over the weekend at the Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island Lagos.

Before the commencement of the awards, journalists were treated to a cocktail at the hotel lobby thus giving room especially to those of them who came from their beat to get into the mood for the event proper. While this was going on, cameras clicked away as not one but many journalists took photographs with friends and colleagues in front of the giant canvass newspaper cut-outs of some of the entries for the event.

Speaking about this year’s event, the Chairman of the jury, Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi said that though it was difficult to believe that it was already seven years since its commencement, he was impressed with the number of journalists in attendance which included top journalists. He went ahead to enumerate the awards three categories which were- reporting, photojournalism and corporate/brand reporting as it concerns Nigeria Breweries products and enlisted the criteria for selection to include info graphics, social responsibility value, authenticity, creativity, news value, credibility, factuality, layout and headline casting, clarity, placement, size of the photograph to mention but a few. He complained that most of the entries for the photojournalist category were poor and entreated them to take it a notch higher for subsequent awards.

Also speaking, the Chairman Board of Directors, Nigeria Breweries, Chief Kola Jamodu, while recounting the history of Nigeria Breweries and the journey so far, described the day as a remarkable one for the journalism profession. He called on journalists to uphold credible reportage, as this would help the media to play its part in nation building. He said that the aim of this years’ award was aimed at examining education, youth empowerment as well as Nigeria breweries and its brands from October to December 2014.

“We are proud to say that the award promotes creativity, excellence and objectivity in the profession of journalism. We hope that the winners will be good will ambassadors of the profession, while ensuring excellence and creativity in their work. One of the key guiding principles for the award is meritocracy. We congratulate the winners and wish them the best,” Jamodu said.

The Nigeria Breweries Golden Pen awards, featured a mentoring session titled ‘The Role of Journalism in Nigeria’s development: The Road less traveled’ which was anchored by seasoned journalist and CEO Rock City FM, Dr. Niran Malalu. He reminded journalists that without journalism, there would be no development and that the country can only get better when journalists began to challenge the corrupt practices of its leaders.

Mayolu berated journalists who in recent times, lack the tenacity to investigate issues preferring instead to form cartels which affect news reportage thus making corruption to continue to thrive. He encouraged journalists to pay more attention to reporting statistics paying more attention to budget and all that concerns it by so doing they would be able to fish out corrupt practices.

According to him, “journalists do not have the tolerance for statistics this is because of the erroneous reason that when they look at statistics or figures, they would forget their prose.”

In his speech, the Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu who also graced the occasion, said that the NB Plc had always been with his state through the different phases of government and commended them for a job well done and for its investment in the state (by siting its second plant in Aba) which has created huge employment opportunities for the people of the state. He expressed delight that the NB Plc was reaping the dividends of its investment in his state and encouraged them not to relent in bringing in more investments to the state.

Speaking on the award, he said “The award is a wonderful initiative and I want the NB Plc to keep up the good work. This award will promote professionalism, excellence and integrity in the journalism profession. It will also help to motivate journalists to contribute their quota in the task of nation building.” While commending the award winners, he urged journalists to always be truthful bearing in mind that they are like figures, which can never lie adding that with credible and authentic reportage of events and issues, they can change the nation. He described Nigerians as wonderful people whose duty it was to tell their story and called on journalists to do the best they could to help tell that story to the world.

Governor Ikpeazu however, used the occasion to stress the commitment of his administration to support and promote cottage industries in his state especially the shoe making industry. He maintained that indigenous shoe production was one area that would drive economic growth in the state while providing employment opportunities for the state citizens. “One of the core focuses of my administration is shoe production. The administration is building the capacity of many cobblers in the shoe manufacturing business and we aim to produce quality shoes for the local market. We are repositioning Abia state, our interest is to make sure that the police, air force, navy, army and other paramilitary outfits wear made in Aba shoes.” He opined that though there were some challenges facing his administration, he was optimistic he would surmount the challenges.

The occasion compered by popular comedian, Tee A, came to a climax with the presentation of awards to deserving winners. Anthony Akaeze of Tell Magazine who emerged the Journalist of the year received a one million naira cash award, an I-phone six mobile phone and a statuette, while Canice Opara of Business World emerged winner in the NB Plc report of the year category and went home with a cash prize of N500,000, an I-phone six mobile phone as well as a statuette. New Telegraph Godwin Irekhe won the Photojournalist award taking home the N300,000 cash prize, an I-phone six and a statuette.

The Golden Pen Award was inaugurated seven years ago by the Nigeria Breweries to promote professional and objective reportage of events in Nigeria. The award is also meant to honour journalists who abide by the fine ethics of the journalism profession. The award has since its inception, produced six winners in the journalist of the year category and several others in the Photojournalist of the year category.

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