. . . Bishops Ezeokafor, Okoye, Gov Obiano, NUJ, Hail
By Jude Atupulazi, Abuchi Onwumelu and Uche Enem
Fides Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Awka has won the “Best Proximity Value/Balanced News Award” at the 2018 Nigerian Catholic Diocesan Newspaper Awards by the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN).
The development has drawn a torrent of commendations from many quarters, including the Catholic bishop of Awka, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, and the auxiliary bishop, Jonas Benson Okoye, Bishop Ebere Okpaleke, Anambra State Government, the state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, among others.
The event which took place, March 26, at Pope John Paul II Pastoral Centre, Makurdi, Benue State, saw Fides adjudged the best by the team of Jurists from the Centre for Study of African Culture and Communication (CESACC) of the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), Port Harcourt.
The award was presented to the Director of Fides Communications, Rev. Fr. Martin Anusi, during the First Plenary Meeting of Directors of Communications which took place from 25th- 29th March, 2019 in Makurdi, Benue State.
At the award presentation, the CSN Director of Social Communications, Rev. Fr. Chris Anyanwu, congratulated the Dioceses that won awards and encouraged them to keep it up. He said the selections were done based on critical evaluations of various diocesan newspapers in 2018.
Expressing his joy, Fr. Martin Anusi, while thanking God, dedicated the award to Fides Management and staff. He thanked the Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, for his untiring encouragement to Fides. He said that the award is to the entire diocese of Awka and Fides teeming contributors and customers for their support to Fides project and vision.
He also thanked to the Auxiliary Bishop, Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye, and Bishop Peter Okpaleke, for their support and encouragement to the work of Fides.
Reacting to the award, the editor-in-chief of Fides, Mr Jude Atupulazi, described it as a very welcome development, noting that it was testament to Fides' determination, not just to conquer its immediate environment, but to give voice to the voiceless in the best traditions of journalism.
He said the award, just as others in the past, would spur Fides to greater heights in the pursuit of journalistic excellence.
In his congratulatory message, the Catholic bishop of Awka Diocese, Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor, who is the publisher of Fides Newspaper, blessed God for the award which he described as unprecedented and memorable, noting that he received what he described as cheering news with joy and happiness.
The chief shepherd of Awka Catholic Diocese said he was overwhelmed with joy seeing Fides emerge victorious in the keenly contested competition, even as he attributed the award to the hard work, team work, commitment, high sense of responsibility and professionalism exhibited by Fides Management and staff.
'Fides has come to stay. They have proved once again that they really understand the job of journalism. Those who believe that Fides should only concern itself to religious stories and reportage can now have a rethink. Even those who will always feel offended by balanced news coming from Fides can also have a change of heart.
'I want people to believe in what we are doing. Let them promote and support us and stop being on the fence. I know the calibre of people in that establishment. They're professionals through and through. I thank Father Martin Anusi and his team. They are really making us proud. We are happy for them. This is no mean feat. It calls for celebration and we are going to celebrate it. I thank the organizers for finding our own dear Fides Newspaper worthy for this uncommon award, Bishop Ezeokafor concluded.
In his own congratulatory message, the Auxiliary Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye, commended the Fides team for winning the award ahead of other Catholic newspapers in Nigeria, saying it was a pointer that Fides' rising profile.
Bishop Okoye attributed the award to the diligence and dedication which the Management and staff had shown over the years.
He charged the Fides team to continue blazing the trail in investigative journalism and balanced news style. He expressed optimism that Fides, with its current trend, would soon hit the newsstands across the nation as a daily newspaper.
Describing Fides as an educative newspaper, he recommended it for all, especially the youth, noting that it would help in building their religious lives.
For his part, His Lordship Most Rev. Peter Okpalaeke congratulated Fides for the award, describing it as deserving.
Also reacting to the award, the Anambra State Government expressed its delight at the development. Reacting through the state's Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C Don Adinuba, in a congratulatory message, the Anambra State Government said, 'The Government and people of Anambra State are delighted to receive the news that Fides Newspaper has won the award of excellence for balanced journalism among Catholic media organizations in Nigeria.'
Mr C. Don Adinuba, noted that Fides was able to get the award because its sense of professionalism and rejection of the temptation of easy and sensational journalism.
'We are pleased that you have been recognized for balanced reports and fair commentaries.
'At a time some media, including the social media, engage in journalism of publish-and-be-damned in the name of fighting societal problems, Fides has chosen to tread the trajectory of responsible journalism. We encourage responsible journalism because it makes for societal excellence,' he said.
Adinuba said the Willie Obiano Administration had gone out of its way to make Anambra State synonymous with excellence in various ramifications, noting that the award to Fides was in sync with the afore-stated policy of Obiano's Government, which, Adinuba observed, had earned the state enormous praise in Nigeria and beyond.
He urged Fides to keep on extending the frontiers of excellence in Anambra State.
For its part, the Anambra State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, said it was a thing of joy that the efforts of the Catholic Diocese of Awka in the past two or three decades via the establishment of Fides Communication had been noticed and rewarded with the 2018 Best Proximity Value/Balanced News Award by the Catholic Community in Nigeria and beyond.
The chairman of the Council, Comrade Emma Ifesinachi, said there was no doubt that Awka Diocese had braced the trail by being the foremost in venturing into the Community Newspaper business with the zeal and vigor required to succeed.
Said he, 'Fides Newspaper, as veritable communication tool to evangelism and information provider, had succeeded in satisfying the quest for balanced news in its immediate environment. This is a step in the right direction. It is commendable that at Fides, one noticed consistency, hard work, high sense of commitment, as well as openness in the administration of affairs in the organization which gave rise to unity of purpose that led to this achievement.
'I must commend the entire Fides family with particular reference to the Director, Rev. Fr. Martin Anusi, who has persistently displayed the quality of a team player; and the Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Jude Atupulazi, for promoting core professional values in the outfit.
'My gratitude equally goes to the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese, His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Paulinus Ezeokafor, for providing the logistics and support needed for Fides to keep afloat and meet the demands of its target audience.
'The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Anambra State Council, will not hesitate in sustaining the existing partnership between it and Fides in advancing globally accepted professional practice in journalism, especially in the print media in Nigeria,' Ifesinachi said.
Also in his congratulatory message, one of the influential journalists in the state, Mr Tony Nwafor Okafor of the Punch Newspapers, stated thus: 'You have a great team at Fides, starting with my lord Bishop who has given free hands to the crop of trained and experienced journalists to operate. Several directors of Fides Communications have demonstrated superb expertise. My bosom friend, Jude Atupulazi, has demonstrated that the best journalists are found from the Correspondents' Chapel. It is a great squad at Fides; first eleven journalists in Anambra.’