The Delta State Government, through the office of the Special Assistant to the Governor on community newspapers has given an award to Ika Weekly newspaper. The award was given to the paper on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 at Orchids Hotel, Asaba during the end of year party that was organized by Association of Community Newspaper Publishers of Nigeria, ACNPN, Delta State Chapter. Notable persons, including the Governor of Delta State also received awards during the occasion.
In his address during the event, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Media (Community Newspapers), Chief David Omoru, said that journalists who work with community newspapers now compete favourably with their counterparts who are nationally inclined, stating that journalism at the grassroots has brought government closer to the people more than ever before. He added that better recognition is being given to community newspapers in Nigeria due to their roles in disseminating information in villages and cities. He promised to continue to promote the 3-point agenda of the Governor Uduaghan’s administration through educating and informing the people around them.
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Information, Delta State, Mr. Oma Djeba who represented the Governor, told the gathering that with the present trend in community newspaper publications in Delta State, it shows that there is progress and togetherness among newspaper publishers within the state.
He also praised the efforts of journalists in Delta State; saying that in the year, 2009 there was not much sensational reporting in the print media. "Grassroot journalism posses a lot of challenges. I have no doubt that you will continue to dispatch your professional ethics with uprightness," he told the gathering; as he promised to support community newspaper publishers in the year, 2010 so that they can build the most formidable team in Nigeria in terms of information and communication.
A veteran journalist and a national officer, Com Edward Akpati Ugwudeh, speaking at the occasion, said that it is right to felicitate with community newspaper publishers considering the work they are doing in Delta State. "On behalf of South-South zone of journalists, I congratulate you. We are partners in progress," he said. He praised the national president for his efforts in carrying along the Delta State Chapter of the body. He urged publishers to truly represent the body and to avoid junk journalism as they are the hope of the grassroots. He also urged publishers to ensure that they employ capable and qualified journalists who will not pose problems to the association and enjoined them to give occasional training to their reporters in order to meet up with the present trend in journalism. "It is time for us to remove the chaff from the wheat. When publishers employ well-trained journalists as reporters, they will have less problems of sensational reporting or junk journalism; and this association will not run into problems. Com. Akpati also urged publishers who have not registered with the body to do so; as sanctions will soon be placed on those who refuse to register. He told them to always remit their monthly dues to the association regularly, as it will help the body to move on progressively.
Com. Osita Bioseh, also a journalist, highlighted the differences between a publisher and a journalist. He said that publishers may not necessarily be journalists. But that as long as they are able to set up a print medium, it is necessary that they employ professional journalists. He also said that the time has come when publishers who do not comply with the regulations will be made to bear the responsibilities of their papers; while the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, will bear the responsibilities of professionally trained journalists. He thereafter asked the National Chairman to present the number of trained journalists in each of the community newspaper publications in Delta State.
The State Chairman of the body, Com. David Dior assured the body that all newspapers within the state will be duly registered within the year, 2010. He said that N.U.J. is running a one – year programme in Asaba for reporters and persons who want to become journalists in the country.
Hon. Andy Omokri who represented the Secretary to the State Government SSG, and Olorogun Solomon Edojah also lent their voices during the occasion. They both praised the efforts of community newspaper publishers in the state and urged them to keep up with their work. They also promised to support the publishers come year, 2010. They urged them to publish reports that will promote good governance, not only within their different localities; but also in Delta State.
Two categories of award were presented at the occasion. The first was the award presentation to corporate bodies and government officials who include His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, Governor of Delta State; Chief James Onanefe Ibori, former Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Secretary to the State Government, Hon. (Chief) Funkekeme Solomon, former Deputy Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, Dr. Tony Nwanka, Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Hon. Harvest Igben, Members, DTHA, representing Udu constituency and Olorogun A.S. Emeyese, Majority Leader, DTHA
The second category was the award presentation given to media practitioners in Delta State. These include the Best Editor of the year 2009, which went to Flash Point newspaper. The Leading Community Newspaper Tabloid award for 2009 was given to Ika Weekly newspaper; while the Best Grassroot in 2009 went to Rural Front newspaper. Others are Delta Digest, which got the Most Consistent newspaper for the year 2009. The Best Packaged newspaper for 2009 went to Warri Voice.
Other newspapers that got awards for their hard work during the year, 2009 also include Synergy, Isoko Vice and C.T.N. newspaper.
Receiving the award on behalf of Ika Weekly, Gabriel Mokobia, a staff of the establishment thanked A.C.N.P.N for recognizing the newspaper. He promised to reciprocate the association’s kind gestures by ensuring that accurate and unbiased news coverage is carried out at all times in the paper. He also appealed to government to assist publishers in whatever ways they could; so that community newspapers in Delta State will be able to service the harsh environment and to meet up with the growing trends in newspaper publishing.
High point of the occasion was the entertainment of guests with choice foods and drinks, and a life band.