By Muhammad Sani Muazu
Journalists irrespective of personal or political inclination have been urged to always hold everyone in authority accountable.
They were also encouraged to ask the right questions, scrutinize, demand answers and be curious to know what the government is up to as the fourth estate of the realm.
Civil Society Organisations on the other hand have been cheered to rise up to its task of amplifying the work of journalists through engaging leaders from all sectors of life with a view to stop all forms of corruption, abuse among other things that marginalized the vulnerable ones in the society.
This forms part of the speech delivered by Motunrayo Alaka, the Executive director and chief executive officer of Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism at the end of the 18th Wole Soyinka award for Investigative Reporting held in Abuja, the Nation’s capital.
Motunrayo Alaka said the awardees represent journalists whose work embody the principle of excellence and editorial integrity in the persistent pursuit of truth that Wole Soyinka award for Investigative reporting upholds.
She added that each of the stories that the eleven finalists told in words, pictures, voices and images as well as the investigation they undertook contributed immensely to achieving the goal of the center as guardians of truth.
Alaka affirmed that while investigative stories remain relevant, there is need for writing stories on Nigerians doing great things all over the world, so as to lift the country up.
In his opening remarks, the chairman board of trustees for Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism, Ropo Sekoni appealed to Nigerians across clans and faith to remain steadfast in sustaining the democracy in Nigeria, as it requires that political leaders and followers show respect and tolerance of different perspective and values, without which open and accountable governance capable of providing common good to citizens cannot be achieved.
Wouter Plomp, the ambassador of the kingdom of the Netherlands to Nigeria in his goodwill message expressed the commitment of his county to continue collaborating with Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism in celebrating and supporting courageous journalists whose reporting holds the powerful accountable, tempering the excesses of those in authority during the time when press freedom faces unprecedented challenges.
Speaking on behalf of the seven judges, a Professor of Mass Communication, Abigail Ogwezzy Ndisika said the committee has received ninety nine entries, 29 from print media, online 45, television 7, Radio 2, and 8 each from photo and editorial cartoons out of which 10 made the finalists.
Lami Sadiq of Daily Trust emerged winner for print category, Sharon Ijasan of TVC News for Television Category and Kemi Busari of Premium Times won the online category.
While there is no Radio investigative story that made the finalists, other awardees for runner up and commended work are Ayodele Adeniran of the guardian, Victor Asowata of The Will, Chukwuemeka Emenike of New Telegraph, Omolabake of Fasogbon, Marcus Fatunmole and Beloved John both from International Center For Investigative Reporting ICIR, as well as Folashade Ogunrinde of TV360 Nigeria.
For the first time in history honorary awards of Human rights defender and Lifetime award for journalistic excellence posthumously goes to Late Professor Lai Oso on promoting investigative reporting and the role of the media.