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The Guardian wins big at NMMA 2020

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Editor of The Guardian on Sunday, Alhaji Kabir Alabi Garba, presenting awards won by The Guardian at the 2020 NMMA to Editor-in-Chief of the paper, Martins Oloja. With Oloja are Acting Editor of The Guardian, Alabi Williams; Editor of Saturday Guardian, Chuks Nwanne; Environment Reporter of the Year, Gregory-Page Nwakunor; Sports Reporter of the Year, Samuel Ifetoye and Insurance Reporter of the Year, Femi Ibirogba PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

It was a deluge of awards for The Guardian on Friday, December 18, as its reporters shone brilliantly at the 2020 Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA). The newspaper won five prizes, including the highly sought Editorial Writing of the Year.

Held at the Sheraton Lagos Hotel, the event, which attracted a host of high networth guests in the media including Prof. Ralph Akinfeleye, Dr. Haroun Al-Rashid Adamu, Yemi Akeju and Chief Dayo Duyile, who gave the keynote address, was themed, the Hybrid Award.

Chairman of the NMMA panel of assessors, Prof. Akinfeleye, said at the event that there were no winners in seven categories because the entrants did not meet the 70 per cent cut-off point. The categories that there were no winners include, Coca-Cola Prize for Brand, Marketing Reporter of the Year, Chevron Prize for Oil and Gas Reporter of the Year, First Bank Prize for Business Publication of the Year, George Bako Prize for Radio Reporter of the Year, TV Production of the Year and TV Drama.

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The mass communication scholar commended the entries in 2020 for the standard. He said that despite the pandemic, there were a large number of entries, which surpassed last year’s figure.

He said: “Initially, I was of the opinion that NMMA 2020 will not hold due to so many uncertainties of the pandemic around the world and particularly in Nigeria. The call for entries was sent out late and the deadline given was too close for comfort.

“In spite of all these, the media responded overwhelmingly.”

Gregory-Page Nwakunor of The Guardian won the NAFCON Prize for Environment Reporter of the Year. His story, Slum Communities That Art Built, was considered the best of the lot in the category. His story defeated Olatunji Ololade’s The Sinking House Of Adeniji Adele (The Nation) and New Telegraph’s Ayinla Muritala Hassan’s entry, Lagos Communities Where Dumpsites Threaten Potable Water, Human Existence.

Samuel Ifetoye won the Bashorun MKO Abiola Prize for Sports Reporter of the Year with his story, Retired Sportsmen, Women, Who Found Life In Other Careers Through Education. Ifetoye’s story was chosen ahead of New Telegraph’s Ajibade Olusesan Samson’s The Pain Of 1980 AFCON Winners And Growing Calls For Retirement Benefit and The Punch’s Afeez Hanafi’s entry, Breaking Boundaries: World Of Virtually Sport Fans Who Watch, Play Football.

Femi Ibirogba won IGI Prize for Insurance Reporter of the Year with his incisive investigations into How Mistrust Over Insurance Endangers Agricultural Investments, Food Security. Ibirogba’s story defeated New Telegraph’s Francis Juliana Ebere’s Old, Sick Dying LUTH Pensioners Demand Gratuities 10 Years After and Ojeme Oseahume Sunday’s of New Telegraph’s Insurance: Apathy, Defiance Compounding Nigerians’ Tragic Woes.

Chijioke Nelson won the Abubakar Imam Prize for Newspaper Features Writer of the Year with his story titled, The Four-Year Buharinomics: So Much So Little. Nelson’s story defeated New Telegraph’s Isioma Madike’s Open Defecation: How We Eat, Drink Our ‘Shit’ Without Knowing, Says 80-Year-Old Ibadan Trader and Gbenga Ogundare of The Nation’s How Chinese Quarries, Others In Search Of Solid Minerals Endanger Lives In Ogun.

The Guardian also won the Editorial Writing of the Year. It had two stories — Corruption As Nigeria’s Death Agent and From South Africa, A Slap On Africa’s Face in contention with The Punch’s Justice For Burnet Kogi Woman.

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In all The Guardian had 14 nominations, with Chukwuma Muanya losing out in the Lateef Jakande Prize for Political Reporter of the Year. His story that made the list was: How More Than 70% Of Registered Voters Were Disenfranchised In Abia. His Fresh Controversy Over Abalaka’s HIV Cure Claims also made the list in Cecil King Memorial Prize for Print Journalist of the Year.

Jeremiah Kingsley also lost out in Peter Odili Prize for Power Reporter of the Year. His story was Setting Agenda For Next Government, Power Sector Failing To Perform Despite Privatisation.

In Olagunsoye Oyinlola Prize For Culture And Tradition Reporter of the Year, Gregory-Page Nwakunor’s stories, Europe And Burden Of Looted Artefacts, Reparation Or Repatriation and A Voyage Around Benin, Home Of Arts, Culture, lost to Eleweke Titus Madako’s Osu: Inside Lives Of Southeast Underdogs.

Iyabo Lawal’s Nigerian Universities’ Blunted Competitive Edge And Global Tertiary made the final list for Ibrahim Shekaru Prize for Education Reporter of the Year. Same goes for Adeyemi Adepetun’s How Infrastructure Gaps, Funding, Federal Government Inconsistency Stalled Resuscitation Of Landlines, which lost the MTN Prize for Telecommunication’s Reporter of the Year.

Sulaimon Salau’s Porous Borders, Unending Smuggling Threaten Local Rice Production and Inefficiency, High Charges, Infrastructure Deficits De-marketing Nigerian Ports also made the final list in Nigerian Ports Authority Prize for Maritime Reporter of the Year.

The Guardian was also nominated for the Babatunde Ajose Prize for Newspaper of the Year and Dele Giwa Prize for Editor of the Year, which it didn’t win.

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