It was a memorable night for students and patrons of Coca Cola as the global brand rolled out the drum to celebrate the 2012 edition of the Campuslife Dinner and Awards night; an annual celebration of student writers from various Nigerian universities, recently in Lagos.
Campuslife Student Writers' Workshop and Awards is an adopted platform by Coca-Cola Nigeria and Nigeria Bottling Company to advance the course of youth empowerment and development by empowering student writers to tell their own stories and constructively engage society using mainstream media.
Over the years, student journalists have always been encouraged to send in clippings of their published articles to be able to qualify for the awards. In this year's edition a total of eight prizes were up for grabs.
An Executive Director at the Institute of Communication and Corporate Studies (ICCS), Lagos, Dr Austin Tam George, who made a presentation at the event, emphasised the need for investigative journalism to be made compulsory for students of Journalism and Mass Communication.
He said; "Not every information gotten from the media represents the totality of the truth; which gives rise to the fact that media literacy skills requires that we question whatever information we receive to get the hidden motives behind the news,"
In a seeming validation of George's point, the award for the Best Reporter of the Year went to Gerald Nwokocha, an Information Technology graduate of Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), who recently completed his National Youth Service Corps in Abuja and whose article 'Outrage Over Corp Members' Death, Mistaken for Boko Haram Member', generated a lot of debate and controversy.
Nwokocha, who earlier won the Best Report in the Politics Category, was overwhelmed with joy that the article written to uncover the truth behind a Corp member's death had made a lasting impression on the judges. The winning report was picked for the prize because of its depth and accuracy.
Public Affairs and Communications Manager at Coca-Cola Nigeria, Peter Muriuki, said the workshop was put together in a quest by the company to continually develop, and invest in youths who are the country's most important resource.
"Our aim is to provide them with a platform to air their views and engage in meaningful dialogue with society on various issues in a logical and analytical manner. Coca-Cola Nigeria has been sponsoring this initiative since 2007 and we plan to continue this partnership because of our firm belief that the sustainability of our business lies in our empowering the youth who are critical to the success of our business," he stated.