A PUNCH newspaper reporter, Edidiong Ikpoto, has emerged winner of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria media award held on Tuesday.

Ikpoto, of the Business Desk of the paper, submitted 87 entries and scored 88 points, to win the Newspaper category of the 8th edition of the MAN Reporter of the Year Award and the 2024 Presidential Media Luncheon held at MAN House, Ikeja, Lagos State.

He defeated Taiwo Hassan of the New Telegraph who scored 86 points to secure second place in the Newspaper category.

Also, another PUNCH journalist, Damilola Olufemi, was shortlisted for the Online category of the award.

Reacting to the accolade, Ikpoto said it was fulfilling to clinch a recognition which represents a considerable measure of advocacy for a sector which is one of the largest components of the Nigerian economy.

He also appreciated MAN for creating a reward system which has served as a fillip to industry correspondents in their quest to report the issues bedevilling manufacturers in Nigeria.

He said, “It is my first journalism award, and the first always feels special. It feels fulfilling to clinch a prize which is always keenly contested by the best and most experienced industry reporter.”

MAN described the award as an avenue “designed to celebrate journalists who excelled in their reportage within the previous year 2023.”

In his opening address, the President of MAN, Francis Meshioye, thanked jiurnalists “for the good work you have done and continue to do in championing the advocacy mandate of MAN through your in-depth and insightful reportage.”

He called on the Federal Government to give priority to the manufacturing industry to boost the nation’s development and economic growth.

Meshioye said, “Our country’s economy is in a dire state and our policymakers, more than ever before, need to be intentional about growing the manufacturing sector. There is no country considered as developed that does not give priority attention to the manufacturing sector.

“There is no gainsaying the fact that manufacturing is pivotal to galvanising and sustaining the economic growth and development of Nigeria. The government needs to come to the realisation that a win for the manufacturing sector is a win
for the economy and by extension a better life for the citizenry.

“Government and its agencies should deliberately abstain from taking harmful and inconsiderate policies that lack adequate inputs of key players that would be affected. Permit me to make reference to two of such instances.”

The association further decried the ban on single-use plastics and Styrofoam packs and the ban on alcoholic beverages in pet bottles and sachets below 200ml as the government does not give due consideration to the economic and social impact of those unwarranted decisions.

“The negative impact of these policies on the manufacturing industries affected as well as the huge number of workers whose jobs are on the line cannot be overemphasised. Additionally, it has become pertinent for government and the private sectors to work in tandem to revamp the ailing manufacturing sector, especially at this time, by exploring homegrown policy initiatives that will address are peculiar challenges,” he added.

He emphasised the need to mobilise the nation’s local resources and more importantly, take deliberate steps to overcome the binding constraints that confront the productive  sector, adding “this has to be through frank conversations, effective collaboration and bold decision that radically departs from the norm.”

To improve the manufacturing sector in 2024, the association recommends: Expend cost saving from fuel subsidy to deploy a bouquet of production-focused policies, backed with more structural measures to combat the peculiar inflationary pressures from insecurity, energy and transport costs; overhaul the power sector and incentive investment in renewables to
boost electricity generation and promote energy-cost efficiency; amongst others.

It further urged governments to give priority to the patronage of made-in-Nigeria products in all its purchases and for all government contracts and projects.

“Government should mandatorily upscale patronage of made-in-Nigeria products by deliberately reducing the excessive reliance of the country on imported products. The three tiers of Government should enforce the implementation of Executive Order 003 in the same for their Ministries, Departments and Agencies,” it stated.

Other winners of the award include Mr David Ubabudike (Winner Television category); Opeyemi Bashorun (Second place winner Television Category); Ebere Franklin (Winner Radio category); Sherifat Oyediran (Second place winner Radio category); Winner of the Online category, Mr Ocheneyi Alli; Second place winner Online category, Tony Nwakaegho; Winner of the Photo Journalist category, Mr Akeem Salau; Second place winner Photo Journalist category, Mr Olawale Amoo.