THE Students Union Government of the University of Calabar, under the leadership of Comrade Kelvin Eyam, yesterday, conferred most outstanding and rugged journalist award on Mr Rasheed Olarewaju, Cross River State chief reporter of African Independent Television, AIT.
The award was given in an elaborate ceremony which took place at UNICAL Hotel Conference Centre, Calabar, to honour the pioneer president of students union government of the university, His Royal Highness, Chief Maurice Ekpo Eyo. According to organizers of the event, Chief Maurice Eyo, who is now a village head in one of the communities in Efut clan, Calabar South, attended the University of Calabar from 1980 to 1985, during which he served as the first SUG president and also captain of Malabo football team.
Daar Communications, owner of Raypower FM and AIT, bagged the most outstanding media outfit award.
Presenting her goodwill message, the Managing Director, AIT, Dr(Mrs) Oluwatosin Dokpesi, commended the students body for recognizing excellence as exemplified in the awards. Dr Dokpesi congratulated all the awardees and especially Mr Rasheed Olarewaju, saying the award conferred on him confirms that Cross River State, from where he reports, has noticed his hardwork and diligence, as she also affirmed that AIT was not wrong when it honoured Mr Rasheed last year with its best reporter award.
The AIT boss who was represented by Mr Rasheed Olarewaju, however assured the management, staff and students of the university as well as the government and people of Cross River State of the media house partnership in sharing the African experience.
”I commend you for choosing to recognise excellence through these awards today. The achievements we are celebrating today are the untiring efforts made by each of the awardees. This should inspire you.
”I congratulate all the awardees, especially my staff, Mr Rasheed Olarewaju… You emerged the best reporter in our company nationwide for several months last year, and this recognition today confirms that the Cross River State you report to the world on a daily basis has also noticed your hardwork and diligence and that we were not wrong when we honoured you last year in our newsroom at the corporate headquarters in Abuja.
”For the Vice Chancellor, management, staff and students and indeed the government and good people of Cross River State, you have a partner in Africa Independence Television(AIT) and we shall continue to share the African experience together.”, Mrs Dokpesi said.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after receiving the award, Mr Rasheed expressed joy for the honour and recognition, saying it is quite significant since the award came from the student population, whom he noted, are always on the look out for faults in people so as to judge their credibility.
While recalling how he was rough handled in 2015 and 2016 by some students of the university in the course of doing his job, he called on government and its relevant agencies to ensure the protection of lives of journalists in the country. The ace reporter also called on government to see journalism profession as part of day to day activities of humans, adding that the role of journalists is to set agenda and serve as watchdog of both the government and individuals.
He said: ”If students who always ask questions, who see faults in some people are the ones recognizing me and my organization today, then it’s very credible one. UNICAL students represent other students in Nigeria, and I dare say in Africa. So, if it’s coming from them, I am happy.
”I have been beaten severally by students, by presidential guards and even governors’ security men. When you are within students environment anything can happen. So when we were beaten and our equipment damaged I reported to my headquarters. But that
did not in anyway stop me… The spirit of social responsibility aspect of media.
”I use this medium to call on the authorities concerned to always see journalism profession as part of the day to day activities of human beings. Our role as journalists is to set agenda, question when necessary, and of course put government and individuals on their toes to do the right thing. We have that moral burden to ask questions on behalf of the multitudes who do not have voice… To tell them what they are doing with their resources or the positions which they are saddled with.”
Dr Betta Edu, director general, Cross River State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Eve Esin, Nollywood actress and Mr Eric Anderson, commissioner for culture and tourism, were among over three hundred persons honoured with different categories of awards.