The 29th edition of the Nigeria Media Merit Award hosted by Kogi State will go down as one of the most memorable in the history of the award since its inception.
The prestigious award which brings together veteran media practitioners and stakeholders of the Nigeria media industry is the most anticipated media event that celebrates and rewards distinguished media practitioners and organisations that have been outstanding in the previous year under review.
The three-day event in Lokoja featured several sideshows, including a media tour of the senatorial zones and a media heroes night that featured food, music and dance.
Welcoming participants to this year's grand presentation ceremony, Chairman, NMMA Board of Trustees, Dr Haroun Al-Rashid Adamu, poured encomium on Gov. Yahaya Bello for hosting the 29th edition of the Nigeria Media Merit Award.
Dr Haroun stressed that the NMMA immensely enjoys the patronage of well-meaning and foremost citizens across the land, and ably supported by other eminent statesmen and major public and private sector organizations who have endowed various categories of awards in perpetuity.
In his address, Gov. Yahaya Bello challenged media outfits and practitioners to evolve an inner mechanism that will regulate and tackle the menace of fake news capable of destabilizing the nation.
“Because the media can use its influence to swing public opinion, it is essential that the reports are accurate and factual.
“Therefore, the media should insulate itself or its practitioners from manipulations or hijack by vested interests. This can be done by self-regulation by the press.
The Governor insisted that government is handicapped given the public innuendo which characterises any attempt to undertake the sanitizing of the media industry, hence called on media practitioners to do the needful in order to save its reputation and status from being dragged into the mud.
“The government cannot help you in this fight, because every attempt of the government to regulate fake news or hate speech has raised an outcry in the media with accusations of gagging free speech
“The bravest and most professional individuals among you need to set examples in standing up to these giant forces for the more timid ones.
“They can do that by remaining resolutely true to what is ethical, actual or factual, no matter whose ox is gored. The profession needs to institutionalize reward and punishment systems for professional misconduct in the line of duty,” he said.
While commending the NMMA awards for provoking the pursuit of excellence by media practitioners, Governor Bello charged media organizations to use reward and punishment system to address professional misconduct.
“You can do this by creating a Name and Shame platform to bring out media institutions that spread fake news and hate speech every year e.g, the fake news award.
He said, “In a democracy, the media is more powerful than even the government. The media can make a party or politician highly visible or totally invisible, even loved or hated. The media is responsible for electoral success or failure.
While congratulating all the awardees for putting in the great works which have earned them the prizes, Gov. Bello described them as the shining lights of the 4th estate of the realm.
“I felicitate with the nominees. You are the shining light of the society. Your nominations are well deserved. I urge you to maintain such high level of professional conduct in your work.”
The Nation Newspaper dominated most of the categories, carting away 16 awards, The Punch Newspaper came a distant second on the award table with 11awards, while New Telegraph Newspaper came third with 4 awards.
Vanguard and The Guardian Newspapers won 3 awards each, as serial winner, the Channel Television was declared as television station of the year, beating TVC and Arise television stations.
Raypower won Station of the Year Award beating the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and Inspiration FM.
Sarah Osanyinlusi Presenter of the Year and Joke Fayemi clinched the Reporter of the Year Award.
The NMMA event has been hosted across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory to promote merit excellence and national development in Nlgeria.
The maiden edition of the NMMA event was held in Lagos in 1992 and consistently until 2002 when the event was moved to Abuja hosted by the then FCT Minister, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai.