There is joy in winning and this joy, comes from hard work and fulfillment. Journalism, like every other profession has its own pay day. Before the freedom of speech act was signed by the current Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, journalism was viewed more like a very risky job, as most journalists were not free to report major happenings in the country, while some others just won’t report them in details out of fear.
However, in the face of all these risks faced by journalists in Nigeria, some outstanding few still managed to stand out of the crowd; though, some lost their lives while trying to deliver the truth, others lived to reap the reward of their good works here on earth. Below is a list of these few outstanding journalists in Nigeria.
DELE GIWA – On the 19th of October, 1986, the editor and co-founder of Newswatch magazine, Dele Giwa was murdered with a letter bomb said to have been delivered to his house by unidentified persons; the said letter had the government’s official seal, which made many Nigerians suspect the government’s involvement in his death. Although, there are different accounts as to why he was killed and by whom. The state security service had accused him of gun running and had questioned him two days before his death; other sources reveal that, Dele Giwa was going to blackmail the military president of Nigeria, General Babangida over the release of Gloria Okon, a drug trafficker arrested in Kano international airport, when Babangida was still the minister of defence, under General Muhammadu Buhari. She had revealed during her detention, that she was working for Maryam Babangida, General Babangida’s wife. She was spirited out of the country to London by Babangida, while many believed she died in detention. Dele Giwa discovered she was living in London, had an interview with her and was going to open the case again at the time of his death. Today, his magazine, Newswatch has become the most decorated publication in Nigeria, having won more than 90 professional awards locally and internationally.
DELE OLOJEDE – 1982, he began his journalism career with the National concord.He however left the paper in 1984 and joined the Newswatch . However,in 1987, Olojede’s effort earned him a $26,000 Ford Foundation Scholars grant which he used to get a master’s degree at Columbia University. While at the Columbia University, he won the Henry N. Taylor Award for outstanding foreign student. He joined Newsday in 1988 as a summer intern; he eventually became a foreign editor of the Newsday. His work saw him working in South Africa, covering the first general election and in Rwanda, where he wrote several series on the genocide, notably the “Genocide’s Child”, which narrated the ordeal of a mother raising a son conceived out of gang rape. In 2005, he won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his fresh, haunting look at Rwanda a decade after rape and genocidal slaughter had ravaged the Tutsi tribe. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Dele Olojede has won several journalism awards which includes; Publisher’s Award from Newsday (1995), Educational Press of America Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Educational Journalism (1995), Unity Award from Lincoln University (1992), Media Award from the Press Club of Long Island (1992), John McNulty Prize Winner (2011) – the Prize was awarded for his vision and efforts in creating NEXT in Nigeria.
Oluyinka Alawode – is another award winner, who cannot be forgotten. Here entry in Africa Agriculture Science Week, saw her emerge winner amongst other African journalist. The award was held by African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). Her winning entry discussed the role of innovative Nigerian women agricultural scientists whose research is enabling smallholder women farmers to increase their incomes. The prize was announced on July 20, 2013, during FARA’s Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW), a conference attended by some 1,000 international delegates.
Musikilu Mojeed – A recent Ford Foundation International Fellow at The City University of New York, he has reported extensively on corruption, human rights and human trafficking and is one of Africa’s most regarded investigative journalists. He is well known for exposing government and corporate corruption in Nigeria.
A winner of several awards, including the FAIR’s Editor’s Courage Award, a Stanford journalism fellowship, the Wole Soyinka Investigative Reporting Award and a Ford Foundation Fellowship, Mojeed was on the board of the Forum for African Investigative Reporters, and is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors.
Adedeji Ademigbuji – started his journalism career in 2001 as an intern and after that, he has never looked back; He has worked with various newspaper firms across Nigeria. In 2013 he won the Social Enterprise Reporting Award (SERA) in the CSR category and the Nigerian Media Merit Awards (NMMA) Coca-Cola Prize in the Brands & Marketing category, setting records in the Newspaper Reporter of the Year and Telecom Reporter of the Year categories.
Obinna Emelike – is a tourism and culture correspondent with Business Day Newspaper. He won the 2014 CNN-Multichoice award in the culture category, held in Dares Salaam in Tanzania. Emelike was nominated along with another Nigerian journalist, and won the award with a feature length story titled, The roads between us.
Funmi Iyanda– is a broadcaster & journalist. She is a multi-award-winning journalist, broadcaster and blogger. She is the host of Talk With Funmi, a TV show which journeys the country, from state to state, capturing people and conversations around Nigeria. Her works has seen her becoming a fellow of the African Leadership Institute Tutu and also of the ASPEN Institute’s African Leadership Initiative.
Adedeji Ademigbuji – is a senior correspondent at The Nation newspaper in Nigeria. He won the first Media Awards on Electrical Counterfeiting in Africa, his article entitled “Checking the menace of fake electrical products” earned him this award.
Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye – She has a passion for writing stories that change society. She is the first and youngest woman to edit for the punch newspapers in Nigeria. A 2014 Knight International Journalism Award winner, an award she earned through hard work. Her investigations into a top hospital’s lack of incubators for high-risk infants, a steel plant’s pollution and a school’s dangerous pit latrine, among others, all changed policies and improved living conditions for Nigerians.
KUNLE SOLAJA – a multi-award winning sports journalist. He has has written two books and co-authored two others.
Tolu Ogunlesi – a freelance journalist for Ventures Africa. In 2013, he won the CNN African joirnalist of the year award for his story entitled, Eko Atlantic City: A Mammoth New Development on the Coastline of Lagos. He is also a two-time winner of the CNN Multichoice African Journalism Awards, as well as a 2013 Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellow.
Juliana Francis – she is one of Nigeria’s foremost investigative journalist. She has won the overall prize of the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting. She was voted as the winner of the award based on her story, Extra-judicial killings in SARS.
Tobore Ovourie – also an investigative journalist won the Woke Soyinka Award for investigative Reporting under the report women category with her story, Inside Nigeria’s ruthless human trafficking mafia. She exposed the menace of human trafficking in modern day Nigeria.
Fisayo Soyombo – a blogger and journalist, whose works has been recognized and widely received from all quarters, has also won the Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Reporting, under the online category with his work – Blood on the Plateau, published on Flair Nigeria.
LARRY IZAMOJE – A sociologist turned sports journalist. His passion for sports, saw him reporting for the Mail newspaper as sports editor and also,with DBN- TV, Lagos. He ventured into establishing his own sports radio station, Brila FM 88.9; Brila FM has since become a favorite of all sports lovers in Nigeria. Izamoje, has won several awards which includes: sports writer of the year award from sporting champions in 2004, international foundation for excellence award for contributing mankind and nation building.(2003), Telecom humanity award for service to the disabled in 2003 and 2006, 21st century award for achievement in pioneering sports in radio in Nigeria(2003), Lagos Football Referee Society award for excellence in journalism 2002 to name but a few.
TAYO ODUNLAMI – a finalist in 2000 for the ICIJ Award for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting, also won the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME) prize for Press Reporter of the Year in 2000. The awards were given for a series he did on a former speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Alhaji Ibrahim Salisu Buhari, which revealed he had fraudulently obtained his post. The series eventually led to the speaker’s resignation. In a January 2001 story, Odunlami traced money that was looted from the government by former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and given to the African National Congress (ANC) in 1995 and Nelson Mandela. Odunlami reported that $50 million allegedly was given to Mandela’s 1994 election campaign in South Africa, and that this money delayed Mandela’s eventual condemnation of Abacha.
Theophilus Abbah – He started as an international affairs reporter with Punch newspaper. His work exposed a move by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to set up radio and television companies using proxies; showed fraud in the National Judicial Institute; and documented the misuse of debt relief funds. He won the Forum for African Investigative Reporters Editor’s Courage Award, and a finalist in 2012 Wole Soyinka Investigative Journalism Award in the print category, for his story about rich Nigerians who owned companies that engaged in fuel subsidy fraud. He was part of the investigative team for “Pirates, social Bandits and Tycoons,” a finalist for the Daniel Pearl Award.
Sunday Dare – He has contributed to publications such as The Nation magazine in New York, 4th Estate magazine, Reporters Sans Frontières and Boston-based Dollar and Sense. In 1998 Dare won a Freedom Forum grant to be a journalism fellow at New York University. He is also a Nieman Fellow and received special recognition from the Committee to Protect Journalists for his work in Nigeria. Some of his reports drew the wrath of Nigeria’s military dictators included an exclusive interview with Gen. Domkat Bali, the defense minister in Gen. Ibrahim Babangida’s military junta, in which Bali exposed the deceit and fraud of the Babangida regime. After the interview was published, he, his editors, and Bali were forced into hiding to avoid arrest, and the junta seized over 100,000 copies of the magazine. Dare was also involved in a series of reports that exposed the terminal illness of Nigeria’s former military dictator Sani Abacha and how he ruled Nigeria by proxy, refusing to attend to matters of state. The report so angered the government that it ordered a manhunt for Dare and his editors. He is a recipient of numerous awards.
YINKA OYEGBILE – He is an award-winning journalist who has won three international fellowships. In 2005 he won the prestigious Knight Fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He is also a 2003 winner of the World Health Organization (WHO) fellowship in Public Health and a winner of the Steve Biko (2001) Scholars’ Award of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, Johannesburg, South Africa. Oyegbile has reported extensively on the evils of tobacco consumption in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
MITCHELL OBI – a recipient of various sports awards in Nigeria and Africa. He contributed immensely to the growth of sports in Nigeria and Africa, through extensive reports on sports across the globe. He is currently an ambassador for the confederation of African football.