Mr. Edetaen Ojo, the Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), was on December 9, 2017 conferred with the 2017 Lifetime Award for Journalistic Excellence by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) in recognition of his “exemplary character and prowess” in the defence of media freedom and advocacy for Freedom of Information.
The Coordinator of the Wole Soyinka Centre, Mrs. Motunrayo Alaka, said Mr. Ojo was selected for the Award for his “decades long consistent labour towards the growth of the Nigerian media, exemplified by your leadership of issues around media rights and enshrining freedom of expression, including your dogged trailblazing effort at ensuring the passage of the Freedom of Information Act in Nigeria and principled stand on those positive values that directly connect media reporting to good governance and social justice globally.”
The Award was formally presented to him at a well-attended ceremony held in Lagos. Prof. Ropo Sekoni, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the WSCIJ, first presented the Award to Mr. Ojo, standing in for the Grand Patron of the Centre, Nobel Prize Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, who was billed to handle the presentation. However, upon his arrival at the ceremony, Prof Soyinka again formally presented the Award to Mr. Ojo, alongside Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, former World Bank Vice President for Africa and erstwhile Minister of Education in Nigeria, who was similarly conferred with the Anti-Corruption Defender Award by the Centre.
In a citation read at the Award presentation ceremony, the Wole Soyinka Centre commended Mr. Ojo for his “principled stand on press freedom, good governance and social justice globally”, in addition to his “consistency towards the growth of the Nigerian media, his leadership of issues around media rights and dogged trailblazing efforts at ensuring the passage of the Freedom of Information Act.”
Accepting the Award, Mr. Ojo remarked: “They say there is no greater honour than one given to a man by his peers.”
He expressed gratitude to the Wole Soyinka Centre for deciding to honour him for the battles that they fought together as members of the same community, adding that he wholeheartedly accepted the Award.”
Previous recipients of the Award are Alhaji Babatunde Jose, regarded as the doyen of Nigerian journalism and one of Nigeria’s most prominent media figures; Dr Adamu Ciroma, a veteran journalist, politician, banker, technocrat and former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; Dr Doyin Abiola, former Managing Director of the defunct National Concord newspaper and the first woman to be named editor of a Nigerian daily; and Mr Lanre Idowu, Chief Executive Officer of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME) and editor-in-chief of Media Review.
Others are. Mr Benson Idonije, broadcaster and first band manager of Afrobeats musician Fela Kuti who is regarded as one of Nigeria’s most revered music critics; Ms Amma Ogan, the brilliant former editor of The Guardian on Sunday who has practiced journalism in several countries around the world, including Nigeria, South Africa, the United States and China and speaks English, French, Chinese, and Igbo; Mr Demola Osinubi, former Managing Director The Punch Group of Newspapers; Mrs. Bimbo Oloyede, a renowned broadcaster and the first woman to cast the Network News on the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC); and Mr. Kabiru Yusuf, Chairman and Executive Director of Media Trust Limited, publishers of the Daily Trust newspaper.