From Andy Esiet, Uyo
Former Executive Vice Chairman of ExxonMobil, Mr. Udom Inoyo has instituted an annual award for investigative journalism in Akwa Ibom state.
Inoyo who is also partnering with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the state to boost journalism practice said, “I have thought of what I could do as my little contribution to the NUJ in Akwa Ibom State with regards to this matter” hence rolling out capacity building programmes for journalists soon.
He said, “anywhere that I have gone in this world when people talk about journalism, one individual comes to my mind first. He is a great son of Akwa Ibom State, an international award-winning journalist, who rose from a position of insignificance to that of global prominence. It is in honour of this high priest of quality reporting that I hereby request the Exco to accept the institution of an annual award to be called: “Ray Ekpu Award for Investigative Journalism“.
Inoyo made the pronouncement while making remarks at the NUJ, Akwa Ibom State Council Congress at weekend amid rousing applause, saying, “this award is to be administered annually by a panel of five first-class journalists comprising two celebrated veteran journalists; one national officer of the Nigerian Guild of Editors; a nominee of the award sponsor; and the State Chairman of the NUJ is aimed at encouraging quality, factual investigative reporting in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria at large.
“The prize money for the winner of this award each year is N500, 000. But the journalist must be operating from Akwa Ibom State”.
Inoyo who is the son of an astute civil servant and a chip of the old block and never wavers in his beliefs on the critical role of the 4th Estate of the Realm as a change agent, reminded journalists that the future of Akwa Ibom state and Nigeria at large “is in your hands…I am not naïve about the vagaries confronting you and the profession today, but I beg you never to surrender. If you do, then our society is doomed!”
As part of the partnership, Inoyo made available five laptops to the NUJ saying, “this will also be in addition to a purse to kick-start the capacity development programme.
“I do not walk in your shoes and therefore cannot fully articulate your daily challenges. But there are a few things I can discern from the high number of journalists in Akwa Ibom state, and that includes the republican nature of our people, a commitment to freedom from all vagaries of life, and an appetite for knowledge.
“It may therefore not be wrong to assert that it is not wealth that drives people into journalism but rather, it is the appetite to gain, gather and share information, knowledge, and especially to be the watchdog of society; and to drive positive change”.
In this regards, Inoyo who is being fingered as one of those aspiring to succeed Governor Udom Emmanuel come 2023 and has been running the Inoyo Toro Foundation for 14 years promoting education in the state, promised “to engage further with the NUJ Executive to know how we can collaborate in your space.
“Given the inherent knowledge and reach of journalists, you must be open to innovations as a means of enabling the economic growth of members of this noble profession. I will financially support this collaboration.
“We must deliberately offer our people hope and not despair, just as institutions of government and their officials must be held to account. Our collective focus must remain a tide that lifts all boats, and not just a few boats”.
When asked on his alleged membership of the Pyrates Confraternity, Inoyo said, “I am not a member” and took a swipe on the vexed issue of cultism in Akwa Ibom State, even among secondary school students, saying people should not just be talking about cultism for the sake of politics emphasising that it is important to talk about the negative manifestations of Cultism and “it is more important to ask questions like: What are we not getting right that is driving these children into cultism? Are we providing adequate education? Are we providing adequate employment opportunities? Are we engaging these youths to avoid their minds becoming the devil’s workshop? Are we doing enough sensitization and attitudinal reorientation? Are the parents, schools, communities, government at all levels doing enough?
“We should be more concerned in addressing the problems from the root” he said expressing concern over the alarming rate of cultism in the society and called on stakeholders from all fronts to explore ways of addressing the root causes of social vices before it destroys everyone.
Chairman of the NUJ, Mr. Amos Etuk thanked Inoyo for instituting the annual award donation of laptops and his readiness to partner with the union for the development of journalists.