Four news hounds from your darling PREMIUM TIMES have been nominated for this year’s CNN MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year Awards.
Peter Nkanga, Elor Nkereuwem, Musikilu Mojeed, and Idris Akinbajo will join 30 other finalists from 12 countries in Zambia where prizes will be handed out to category and overall winners.
Two other Nigerian reporters – Tunde Akingbade of the The Guardian on Sunday and Ahaoma Kanu of National Daily – were also nominated for the awards.
Winners of the competition will be announced at an award event and gala night in Lusaka, Zambia, on July 23 where Isha Sesay, host of CNN’s International News Center, and Francis Thembo Jnr of Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) will be joint comperes, the administrators of the award have said.
A statement announcing the finalists quoted the chairman of the panel of judges, Ferial Haffajee, who is also the Editor-in-Chief of South Africa’s City Press, saying how impressed the judges were “by the enhanced quality and competitiveness of the work”.
At PREMIUM TIMES’ newsroom in Abuja Friday, the staff were in a boisterous mood, cheering the reporters for whom this year has been a harvest of laurels.
Three of the four journalists were the stars of the 2011 edition of the Forum for African Investigative Reporters Award held in South Africa on November 1, 2011, where named African Investigative Journalists of the Year 2011 after they won the first prize for investigative journalism. Mr. Mojeed, the Managing Editor of Premium Times, also won the editorial courage award at the same event.
The four journalists also won Nigeria’s most prized reporting honours, the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, in December 2011.
A groundbreaking investigation into a massive scale of corruption in the management of Nigeria’s oil and gas assets won the journalists the two sets of awards.
The same six-part series, written for NEXT last year, is what has earned them this finalist position in the CNN MultiChoice AfricanJournalist Awards.
“It is a testament to the quality of work we do at Premium Times, the integrity of our reportorial crew, and the validation of the vision we espouse,” said Dapo Olorunyomi, Editor-in-Chief of the online publication.
Mr. Mojeed spoke of some of the challenges the series posed for his team.
“It is reassuring that journalism can still have an impact in a disorganised and terribly corrupt country like Nigeria. When these stories were published, rather than being sanctioned, the subject of these reports was rewarded with a reappointment into the federal cabinet.
“A lot of the reporters were dejected that after that magnitude of expos?, such a person could still sit in a federal cabinet deciding the fate of 150 million Nigerians. This nomination shows that others have noticed our work,” he said.
Mr. Nkanga, a polyglot, graduated with high honours from the University of Uyo, where he read Foreign Languages.
Ms. Nkereuwem graduated with high honours from the University of London with a degree in International Relations. She had a previous degree in Mathematics/Statistics from the University of Calabar.
Mr. Akinbajo also graduated with high honours from the Obafemi Awolowo University with a degree in Food Technology.
The three reporters cut their professional teeth at the now defunct NEXT where they helped pioneered the Enterprise (investigations) Team under the supervision of Mr. Mojeed, a multiple award winning journalist and alumnus of the University of Uyo and the City University of New York (CUNY). He had previously reported for TELL, THE NEWS, and PUNCH.
He was recently announced the only African for the 2012 John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University due to start in September.
The four reporters moved on to help start PREMIUM TIMES when NEXT stopped its print edition last October.