A yearly excellence award to celebrate outstanding investigative journalists in Akwa Ibom State has been instituted.
Christened Ray Ekpu Award for Investigative Journalism, the award’s prize is N500,000, though ‘’the journalist must be operating from Akwa Ibom State.”
Ekpu is a frontline Akwa-Ibom born veteran journalist, a one-time Chief Executive Officer/editor-in-chief of Newswatch magazine, CEO of May5 and international editor of the year generally regarded by professionals within and outside the shores of the country as the doyen of contemporary journalism in Nigeria.
The immediate past Vice Chairman of ExxonMobil Subsidiary Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Udom Inoyo who instituted the award said ‘’the award is aimed at encouraging quality, factual investigative reporting in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria at large.’’
Speaking as a Special Guest of Honour in the union’s monthly congress at NUJ Press Centre in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom Capital over the weekend, he said “This award to be administered annually by a panel of five first-class journalists comprising: two celebrated veteran journalists; one national officer of the Nigerian Guild of Editors; a nominee of the award sponsor; and the State Chairman of the NUJ.’’
Inoyo, an erstwhile National President, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria and currently serves in the Akwa Ibom State Economic Reconstruction Committee, pointed out “Mr. Chairman, I have thought of what I could do as my little contribution to the NUJ in Akwa Ibom State with regards to this matter.
”Anywhere that I have gone in this world when people talk about journalism, one individual comes to my mind first. He is a great son of Akwa Ibom State, an international award-winning journalist, who rose from a position of insignificance to that of global prominence.
”It is in honour of this high priest of quality reporting that I hereby request the Exco to accept the institution of an annual award to be called: Ray Ekpu Award for Investigative Journalism.’’
Inoyo, Advisor, Inoyo Toro Foundation, also announced plans to partner with the leadership of the NUJ towards enhancing capacities of members of the pen profession in Akwa Ibom State and donated some laptops and a kick-off fund of N2.5 million for that purpose.
He appealed to journalists not to sacrifice professionalism on the altar of political correctness. “As we all know, hard work, discipline and character have taken a back seat in our society. Those among you who continue to drum into our ears the need to act with honour and do things properly are now viewed as prophets of old.
”You are chastised and left to lurch in solitude. It has now become fashionable to be ‘correct’ in your reporting, not wanting to stir the hornet’s nest. So, let me upfront salute those who have decided to remain steadfast, bold, and honest; determining not to behave as if everyone is captured by an incubus or succubus powers.”
Mr. Inoyo recalled, “Let me draw your attention to one more thing which you can do for yourselves, and by extension, society. It is called differentiation. Many self-styled journalists may be doing damage to this noble profession. You must help separate the wheat from the chaff so that the integrity of journalism remains undiluted.”
He frowned at false sensational stories aimed at tarnishing the image of seasoned sons and daughters of Akwa Ibom State.
According to him, “Just this week, we woke up to a screaming headline in one of the state-based tabloids suggesting that I had a meeting two months ago in Calabar with His Excellency, Donald Duke, and the reporter must have been so important to be privy to Donald’s conversation with Governor Udom Emmanuel that ‘Inoyo is a Hard Sale.’
”This is a complete falsehood and a mischievous creation of a fiction writer. While I will never bother to debunk such falsehood, it would be better if all practitioners would uphold the basic tenets of journalism in their daily practice, which includes Truth, Accuracy, Objectivity, Social Responsibility, etc.”
Asked by a reporter if he is a member of any of the Pyrates Confraternity, Mr. Inoyo denied “I am not a Member,” and described such speculations as mischievous when he delivered a paper entitled “Your Pen, Our Future.”
On the vexing issue of cultism causing havocs in the state, he observed that people should not just be talking about cultism for the sake of politics, emphasising that it is important to talk about the negative manifestations of cultism.
“It is more important to ask questions like: What are we not getting right that is driving these children into cultism? Are we providing adequate education? Are we providing adequate employment opportunities? Are we engaging these youths to avoid their minds becoming the devil’s workshop?
”Are we doing enough sensitization and attitudinal reorientation? Are the parents, schools, communities, government at all levels doing enough? We should be more concerned in addressing the problems from the root.”
Inoyo expressed concern over the alarming rate of cultism in the society and called on stakeholders from all fronts to explore ways of addressing the root causes of social vices, noting that such vices, if not attended to, may consume everyone in the future.
He reiterated his readiness to partner Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Civil Society Organizations (CSO), Community Based Organizations (CBO), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and other groups to initiate a conversion aimed at addressing the issues.
Responding, Comrade Amos Etuk, the state NUJ Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, appreciated the investiture of the prize for outstanding investigative journalism and the donation of laptops and financial support towards enhancing capacity building amongst journalists in the state.
Etuk extolled Inoyo for consistently demonstrating excellence in all facets of life particularly his worthy contributions to Akwa Ibom project.