Former Exxon Mobil Vice President, Mr. Udom Inoyo, has instituted an award for investigative journalism in honour of Mr. Ray Ekpu, an international award-winning Nigerian veteran journalist.

Mr. Inoyo who disclosed his intention in his remarks at the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, July Congress at the NUJ Secretariat in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state capital, said sponsoring an annual award would encourage professionalism and diligence in media practice in Nigeria.

He urged journalists in the state to revive the good old values of hard work, discipline and character in the discharge of their professional duties.

“I have thought of what I could do as my little contribution to the NUJ in Akwa Ibom State with regards to this matter. 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.

“This award, 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, 000.00 (five hundred thousand Naira). But the journalist must be operating from Akwa Ibom State.”

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He appealed to journalists not to sacrifice professionalism on the altar of correctness.

“As we all know, hard work, discipline and character, have taken a back seat in our society. Those amongst you who continue to drum into our ears the need to act with honour and do things properly are now viewed as prophets of old. You are chastised and left to lurch in solitude. It has now become fashionable to be ‘correct’ in your reporting, not wanting to stir the hornet’s nest. So, let me upfront salute those who have decided to remain steadfast, bold, and honest; determining not to behave as if everyone is captured by an incubus or succubus powers.”

Mr. Inoyo noted that for journalists in the state to be taken seriously, they must work hard to weed out quacks in their fold.

“Let me draw your attention to one more thing which you can do for yourselves, and by extension, society. It is called differentiation. Many self-styled journalists may be doing damage to this noble profession. You must help separate the wheat from the chaff so that the integrity of journalism remains undiluted.”

He also frowned at false sensational stories aimed at tarnishing the image of seasoned sons and daughters of Akwa Ibom State

“Just this week, we woke up to a screaming headline in one of the state-based tabloids suggesting that I had a meeting two months ago in Calabar with His Excellency, Donald Duke, and the reporter must have been so important to be privy to Donald’s conversation with Governor Udom Emmanuel that “Inoyo is a hard sell.”

“This is a complete falsehood and a mischievous creation of a fiction writer. While I will never border to debunk such falsehood it would be better if all practitioners would uphold the basic tenets of journalism in their daily practice, which includes Truth, Accuracy, Objectivity, Social Responsibility, etc,” he added.