Blessing Oladunjoye, journalist and publisher of BONews Service, an online development news platform that focuses on women, persons with disabilities and children, has emerged the overall winner in the 2023 Female Reporters Leadership Programme (FRLP) of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ).
The award was announced during the 5th Fellowship Induction and Award organized by the WSCIJ in Lagos on Monday.
As part of the fellowship programme, Oladunjoye launched the ‘Leading (Media) Ladies’ project, which facilitated a one-day capacity-building workshop for entry-level female journalists. The workshop equipped the journalists with the necessary skills to choose the right mentors and navigate the challenges in the newsroom.
Oladunjoye’s story project, “Inside Murky Waters of Surrogacy and Rise of Baby Factories in Nigeria,” investigated the unethical practices and absence of substantial law on surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology in Nigeria.
The story led to the investigation of the hospital involved.
Expressing her gratitude to the WSCIJ, Oladunjoye said the fellowship program was a “positive twist” in her career and had challenged her to do what she never imagined she could.
She also thanked her mentor, co-fellows, friends, and family for their support.
“I am delighted to be the overall winner of the 2023 Female Reporters Leadership Programme (FRLP) of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ). This is a positive twist in my career and has challenged me to do what I never imagined I could.
“I would like to thank the WSCIJ for this recognition and for providing me with the opportunity to participate in this prestigious fellowship program. I would also like to thank my mentor, co-fellows, friends, and family, without whom this achievement would not have been possible. Your guidance, inspiration, and unwavering support have been my driving force.
Two other journalists, Sarah Ayeku and Folashade Ogunrinde, emerged as the first and second runners-up respectively.
Ayeku, a reporter and producer at TVC News, won the first runner-up with for her project and report during the fellowship.
Her story “Rape: Culture of Silence,” investigated the pattern of silence, threat and fears of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SBGV) survivors.
She also explored the ineptitude and connivance of some police officers with perpetrators to deny survivors and victims justice.
Ayeku also empowered female journalism students to report gender-related issues, overcome the challenges of investigative reporting and cover male-dominated beats.
Ogunrinde, a news editor with TV360 Nigeria in Lagos, won the second runner-up prize for her project, “Leadership and Gender Reporting Workshop,” which aimed to enhance gender framing in news reportage and bring attention to sexual and reproductive health issues and rights.
Her report, “#JusticeforBamishe: How lawyers’ absence, lax laws, and courts’ apathy dampen families’ hope for justice,” highlights the flaws in the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria.
It has encouraged many civil society groups to push for a review of the 2015 criminal justice law for more accountability in the judicial system.
The winners received laptop and cash prizes.
The Executive Director of WSCIJ, Motunrayo Alaka, said that all the fellows are winners regardless of those who received cash prizes.
She said that the award was designed to recognize the best performing journalists.
Alaka charged the fellows to begin to lead the change that is required to improve the wellbeing of women in the society.