Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Two Nigerians, Toyosi Ogunseye (Punch Newspapers) and Nnamdi Okosieme (NEXT), were shortlisted among the twenty seven finalists nominated for the prestigious CNN Multichoice African Journalist 2011 awards. The winners of the competition will be announced at an Award Ceremony and Gala Evening in Johannesburg, South Africa on Saturday 25 June 2011.

This year the competition received entries from 42 countries across the continent, including French and Portuguese speaking Africa. There are 27 finalists from 13 countries: 

·                                 Kofi Akpabli, Freelance for the Daily Graphic , Ghana
·                                 Claudine Efoa Atohoun, ORTB, Benin
·                                 Rabin Bhujun, L’Express Dimanche, Mauritius
·                                 José Bouças de Oliveira, Televisão Santomense, São Tomé
·                                 Sylvia Chebet, Citizen TV, Kenya
·                                 DispatchOnline Team, Daily Dispatch, South Africa
·                                 Kimani Githae, Citizen TV, Kenya
·                                 Lamia Hassan, Business Today, Egypt
·                                 Virgil Augustin Pascal Houesson, L’événement Précis, Benin
·                                 Mahamud Abdi Jama, Waaheen , Somalia
·                                 Norman Katende, Freelance for The New Vision , Uganda
·                                 Farouk Kayondo, UBC, Uganda
·                                 Mark Klusener, eNews Africa, South Africa
·                                 Selma Marivate, Record , Mozambique
·                                 Melini Moses, SABC, South Africa
·                                 Lindile Mpanza, e.tv, South Africa
·                                 Kamau Mutunga, DN2 Magazine, Daily Nation , Kenya
·                                 Nigel M. Nassar, The New Vision , Uganda
·                                 Fatuma Noor, The Star, Kenya
·                                 Oluwatoyos Ogunseye, Sunday Punch , Nigeria
·                                 Nnamdi Okosieme, Next Newspaper , Nigeria
·                                 Benon Herbert Oluka, Sunday Life Magazine, Sunday Monitor , Uganda
·                                 Beryl Ooro, K24 TV, Kenya
·                                 Sonny Serite, Freelance for The Sunday Standard , Botswana
·                                 Portia Solomon, TV3 News , Ghana
·                                 Kipchumba Some,  The Standard, Kenya
·                                 Nkula Zau, Televisão Pública de Angola

Announcing the finalists, Joel Kibazo said: “African journalists are becoming noticeably more challenging, showing greater courage and strength which would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. Entries this year have demonstrated this – bolder, more determined on their home patch, and with a new found zeal to cover countries beyond their own borders."

The independent judging panel, chaired by Joel Kibazo, journalist and media consultant, includes: Ikechukwu Amaechi, Editor, Daily Independent, Nigeria; Jean-Paul Gérouard, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, France 3 TV; Ferial Haffajee, Editor-in-Chief, City Press, South Africa;Arlindo Lopes, former Secretary General, Southern African Broadcasting Association; Zipporah Musau,  Managing Editor,  Magazines, The Standard Group Ltd, Kenya; Kim Norgaard, CNN Bureau Chief, South Africa and this year CNN’s sports anchor Pedro Pinto joined the panel to assist in the judging of the Portuguese General News Category.

Freelance journalist Paul McNally assisted the judging panel and carried out the first round of pre-selection, removing the entries that didn’t meet the required journalistic standards to be put forward to the judging panel for the next stage of judging. Paul was the winner of the Health and Medical Category at the 2009 CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards, and a runner-up in the HIV / AIDS Reporting category of the same year.

This year has seen communications company, Ericsson, join a loyal list of sponsors who continue to lend their valuable support to the awards:Coca-Cola Africa; Ecobank; IPP Media, Tanzania; Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD); Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind the BlackBerry solution; Sandton Sun Hotel and A24 Media.

The Sandton Sun is the delegate hotel for the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2011.  Situated in the heart of Sandton’s business and entertainment centre, it provides the perfect location for finalists, judges, attending media and guests from across the continent to explore this vibrant district of northern Johannesburg . An all expenses paid five day programme of workshops, media forums, networking has been set up for the finalists during the run up to the award ceremony on 25 June 2011.

Tony Maddox, Executive Vice-President and Managing Director of CNN International said: “The passion which African journalists display for telling compelling and top class stories knows no bounds. Once more, CNN proudly continues its commitment to encouraging inspired journalistic excellence with these awards.”

Collins Khumalo, President MultiChoice Africa said We remain committed to the development of media in Africa and to giving recognition to outstanding journalists for their tireless effort and work in telling the African story.  Our wish is to inspire all the finalists to use this opportunity to not only strive to become the best in Africa but to become the best in the world.”

Isha Sesay, presenter of CNN International’s weekly programme ‘Inside Africa’ and Robert Marawa, the face of one of DStv’s SuperSports channel, will be hosts for the June 25 ceremony.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Never before in the history of the country has a general election generated such feverish excitement among Nigerians – at home and in the diaspora - like the 2011 April Polls. It almost feels like waiting to watch super-fast humans prove their athletic prowess in an Olympic 100 metres dash, the most alpha male of track and field events.

However, unlike the latter, there are no alpha males in this event. President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); Nuhu Ribadu, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN);  Muhammadu Buhari, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC); Ibrahim Shekarau, All Nigeria Peoples’ Party (ANPP), and others are not exactly super humans and don’t have the total qualities to make an ‘ideal’ president. Still, their frailties can be forgiven as Nigerians go to the polls this Saturday to choose who among these men would become their president. All things being equal, the votes should count this time.

Jonathan’s emergence as a prominent figure in the Nigeria’s equation was helped by the demise of late President Umaru Yar Adua and widely held sentiments that he hails from the minority, oil-rich, but painfully impoverished and volatile Niger Delta region. A vote for him, some pro-Jonathan analysts argue, would go a long way to bring stability to the region, as well as help forge a united Nigeria. Then Jonathan has the power of incumbency working for him and seems to enjoy more nationwide acceptance than any of the other presidential candidates. But, can he actually become Nigeria’s Barack Obama, like his technologically savvy and brilliant campaign strategists try to package him and would have us believe? With due respect, he presently doesn’t look like he possesses the sort of charisma, carriage - if you like swagger, or eloquence of the first US Black President. Thus, he may need more firmness to establish his authority as Nigeria’s number one citizen.

But credit to him, his delivered on his promise of electoral reforms and ensuring a free and fair elections. This has increased his popularity with the electorate. Although his ascension to political prominence could be likened to one foisted by unexpected circumstances; the moment he accepted to become Bayelsa State governor, Acting President, President, and then decided to run for presidency, it was clear that Jonathan had finally come the full circle to accept the thrust of leadership and so may be ready for the challenges ahead. The more reasons why he can be trusted for competence, asserts some of his followers. Whether Nigerians agree too that he has fully understood twelve years of leadership lessons remain to be seen. That he belongs to the ruling party PDP - which has lost the faith of many more Nigerians - may also prove to be one of his strengths or major weakness at the polls.

Can he be trusted with elected leadership?

Muhammadu Buhari? Hmmn, tough one. The former Army General has a reputation as an avowed champion of discipline. Yet, he has been dogged by past records of high-handedness and other dictatorial tendencies during his stint as military Head of State (1983-1985). Also Buhari has been accused in some quarters of being more pro-North than pro-Nigeria. But his integrity, strength of personality and spartan lifestyle are qualities that may be needed in the country’s continued fight against systemic corruption and other societal vices. He should also be given credit for trying to build bridges across age, ethnic and religious divides through his campaign efforts in recent times, so as to win the support of more Nigerians. The more reason why his third try at the presidency would be a clear test of his national acceptance. While Buhari’s critics have warned that integrity does not equal competence, his supporters trump his ‘stellar’ work during his tenure as chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) under the late General Sani Abacha. Unfortunately for Buhari, a man’s past, either fairly or unfairly, would sometimes be used as a yardstick to judge him in the present; especially when it still looms like a shadow that refuses go away - on newspaper pages and online opinion pieces, criticising him for his words or actions many years ago. There may not be much in the present either to ‘balance’ his books. However, his decision to choose populist pastor and activist - Tunde Bakare - as his running mate may have wittingly given him a fat chance of upsetting Jonathan’s applecart. Can he swim against the tide of this generation which doesn’t give any chance to a man stuck in the old ways of doing things, and will the North not feel betrayed that he chose a pastor as running mate?

Would Nigerians be willing to forgive the past and embrace a ‘newly packaged’ Buhari as civilian president?

As for Nuhu Ribadu, some political analysts are of the opinion that he may be running four years too early, arguing that he should have used this time to improve on his political resume. But, every Nigerian of political age can aspire for the highest office in the land, after all. On that premise, Ribadu is well within his rights to contest for the presidency. He is also well respected at home and abroad for his track record as former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). However, his critics argue that any well trained enforcement agent/policeman should be able to apprehend those who flout the financial and economic laws of the land - if properly equipped with the right tools and intelligence (although it is not often the case). Simply put, effectively fighting crime may not be the same thing as guaranteeing functional leadership in a country of 150 million people. But competence should count for something. For those who are pro-Ribadu, he cuts the figure of a new Nigeria; intelligent, technologically savvy, purpose-driven, passionate advocate for change, youthful, full of promise and connects more with this generation than the other candidates. Maybe, Ribadu might have a better qualification to be labelled as Nigeria’s Obama. Yet, the question that comes to mind is whether this likable Nigerian can lead the charge when he is eventually handed the baton. Still, a Ribadu Presidency looks promising and is possible, while seeming political inexperience might just be his greatest strength. However, if he gets there, he may need the wise counsel of the ‘elders’. With the wind of political change sweeping across the nation like forest fires in harmattan season, who knows, the former EFCC boss could still cause an upset at the polls.

But, can he be trusted with the huge responsibility of leading the path to a new Nigeria, especially at this junction of our fragile nationhood?

Ibrahim Shekarau, presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples party (ANPP), may seem to be the dark horse among the top contenders. But, after his impressive performance at the NN24-organized presidential debate last month, the views of many Nigerians towards him have changed, despite his religious convictions and its strong influence on his style of governance as Kano State governor. Pat Utomi’s withdrawal and subsequent endorsement of Shekarau has further lent credence to the fact that he has significantly increased his political base and followership. Whether this would count at the polls remain to be seen.

Without sounding disrespectful, truth be told. Dele Momodu, Ovation Publisher and candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP), and the other presidential candidates are merely going to play the roles of spoilers in this likely three-horse presidential race: Jonathan, Buhari and Ribadu. These men look more likely to get the chunk of the votes, come April 16. Despite the strong political undercurrents and intensive lobbying among the opposition and government in the jostle for power, there would be only one clear winner.

Although the various campaigns of the presidential candidates have been suspect, as it lacks a well laid out blueprint/agenda on how to tackle the many issues that bedevil the nation – unemployment, revival of the education and health sector etc; Nigerians have a renewed sense of hope at least, and so are keeping faith that whoever among these candidates is entrusted with the presidency at this time would be under a national radar to ensure that he works only for the good of the country. As it stands, the votes would be divided along party lines, political, public and private sentiments. But one thing is clear; Nigerians are no more ignorant of their rights to demand for quality leadership across all tiers of government and are more determined than ever to ensure it happens. Nigerians simply want change. And with the general conduct of the National Assembly Polls last weekend, there is renewed sense of hope that the country can indeed get to the Promised Land.

Maybe Africa’s most populous country would finally have her Obama moment? Let’s all vote wisely. Yes we caN.

God bless Nigeria!


Please note: This article is strictly the author’s opinion and is not a way of canvassing for any of the presidential candidates.