ICIR funded story wins 2022 Ethical Journalism Award

A STORY funded by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (The ICIR) in collaboration with the Internationa Budget Partnership (IBP) has emerged as the winner of the 2022 Professor Chinyere Stella Okunna Ethical Journalism Award.

The award which is presented by Okunna, the first female professor of Mass Communication in Nigeria and matriarch of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), was announced on December 21 during the NUJ end of the year party held in Awka, Anambra State.

The entry by Alfred Ajayi, a correspondent of Radio Nigeria, was adjudged the most outstanding out of 23 entries submitted for the award.

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The story, “How Anambra runs over 630 PHCs with 150 nurses, midwives“, revealed the poor implementation of the Midwives Service Scheme initiated by the Federal Government in 2009.

The report showed how Nigeria had so far recorded a maternal mortality rate of 917 per 100,000 live births in 2022 and an infant mortality rate of 56.220 deaths per 1000 live births, representing a 2.57 per cent decline from 2021 when the infant mortality rate was 57.701 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The Investigation also revealed how the poor remuneration of nurses and midwives affects the services rendered to the communities. 

Speaking with The ICIR in an interview, Ajayi said he went to five local government areas – Awka North, Anambra East, Onitsha South, Ogbaru and Aguata, to document the travails of residents despite the insecurity in the regions.

“Interesting also is the fact that I joined the project in the month it would end. So, I had one month to produce this report and one other. It was not easy for me abandoning every other thing to pursue this, which took me to five local government areas including Awka, North, Anambra East, Onitsha South, Ogbaru and Aguata, where insecurity is particularly troubling. Less than five minutes after my arrival at Aguata PHC, gunshots rented the air from the military check point close by. They were merely announcing their presence to the hoodlums. However, my heart sank because I had earlier feared going there, but I needed to do that to get the report done.”

He added that he feels fulfilled, noting that he has lost count of many previous failed attempts. 



    Speaking on the challenges encountered in doing the report, he said, “Another challenge is having to pursue some of the people who could not be met physically on the phone until they are trapped down for the interview. I remember having to go back to one of the PHCs to collect the number of a midwife who left the job due to meagre pay. Her narration further enriched the report.”

    He concluded by expressing his appreciation to The ICIR for the support and platform it afforded him in giving voice to the voiceless.

    “Above all, it was a great experience, and I remain grateful to The ICIR for it. That report particularly drew attention. As of today, it has attracted almost a thousand views on FRCN website, which is not always the case.”

    “My appreciation goes to The ICIR and IBP, which brought me into the health reporting project. I am particularly indebted to the Executive Director of The ICIR, Mr Dayo Aiyetan. This award is dedicated to my creator, my family and, like I said Mr Aiyetan, among other mentors.”

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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