The leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ last week announced its decision to review the code of conduct for Nigerian journalists, its work ethics and conditions of service amongst other issues. President of the union, Mr Garba Mohammed made the disclosure in Abuja when he inaugurated a 5 man panel of eminent journalists to consider nominations for the annual Ladi Lawal NUJ Journalist of the year award.
Muhammed submitted that the time had come for journalists to look at innovative ways of strengthening the media profession in the quest for achieving excellence in the overall performance of the 4th Estate of the realm.
He observed that Nigerian media practitioners, being the agenda setters for the government and indeed a source of inspiration for the masses must not be found wanting in the discharge of its constitutional duties and moral obligations hence the need to do a thorough in-house cleansing aimed at weeding out the chaff.
He also added that, "we will be able to come up with a new code of conduct that will tally with the reality of life as it is today. Our administration is determined that we improve the level of professionalism in Journalism. There is need for us to practice journalism in the high sense of professionalism and bearing in mind that we are guided by the ethics of journalism profession. Equally the issue of better conditions of service is also essential and which by the grace of God we are going to address with all seriousness."
The NUJ Chairman particularly harped on the gradual decline of the era of investigative journalism where journalists go all out to source and report stories which had great socio-political and economic impact not only on the citizenry but on the trend of events in the country.
He noted that the Ladi Lawal annual award for excellence was being used as a forerunner in the series of innovative moves being employed by the current administration to improve professionalism in the media. An enhanced code of conduct according to him was one area which the union would work assiduously upon to improve the quality of services being offered by practicing journalists everywhere around the country.
"We feel that the era of investigative reporting has been greatly affected and we are concerned by this. We also feel that with the institution of these kinds of awards the trend will be reversed. We also want to assure our colleagues that this administration is seriously reviewing the code of conduct guiding our profession. It is one area which we are greatly concerned about and we are assuring our colleagues that before the end of our tenure in 2015."
The award, second in the series had been instituted in remembrance of the contributions of the Nigerian journalist, Ladi Lawal, a former Group Managing Director of Daar Communications and past Chairman of Lagos State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists.
Mohammed also said that this year's Ladi Lawal award would coincide with the anniversary of the union and thus it called for a sober reflection not only on the immense contribution of the late media persona to the journalism profession but equally on the strides and challenges that have been facing the union over the years.
He said the panel of judges had been carefully selected by the union leadership in order to ensure that only the best minds in the media were given the opportunity to carry out the important task of selecting the best out of the numerous entries that had come in. According to him, over 80 entries were received in the print medium while about 30 came in from the broadcast category.
'With the institution of these kinds of awards it would encourage journalists to do more of investigative journalism and would assure them that the stakeholders in the profession are doing everything they can to raise the banner of excellence even higher,' he concluded
The panel of judges for this year's Ladi Lawal award includes Osita Nweke, secretary, Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON, Azubuike, Ishekwe, group managing director, Leadership newspapers, Yusuf Alli, Head, Northern Operations, The Nation, Bayo Atoyebi, erstwhile DG, BON and Sola Atere, the executive director, news, of Nigerian Television Authority, NTA. The panel was tasked by the leadership of the union to screen the numerous entries received for the competition with a view of selecting the category winners and the ultimate winner.
The judges in a short statement read out by one of them said they would ensure that only the best gets the reward of excellence at the end. 'The essence of the award is to enhance excellence. In other words it entails the careful reward of colleagues that stand out as unique and outstanding. That to my mind serves as a beacon and a challenge for others to emulate. It also affords the finalists to be very critical and onerous and also have the singular mind to stand out as the best and that can serve as a beacon to follow,' part of the statement read.
Born 1955, Ladi Lawal attended the Lagos City College between 1969 and 1973, and the Kwara State College of Technology between 1976 and 1978 where he obtained a Diploma in Secretarial Studies. He later obtained a certificate in Reporting from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), Lagos, in 1978. In 2000, Ladi proceeded to the Lagos State University (LASU) from where he obtained a degree in History in 2005.
He worked with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) from 1978 to 1993 and joined DAAR Communications Plc as Director of News, Ray Power 100.5FM (1994-1996). Ladi was later to become the General Manager in 1999 and later the Chief Operations Officer, DAAR Communications Plc in 2001-2005. He was the Executive Director, Operations, (2005-2006), and later Managing Director in December 2006.
He was elected Chairman, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Lagos State Council (1989-1994) and National President of the Union between 1994 and 1995.
Ladi died at the age of 54. His death in 2009 created shock waves in the media.