Nigerian female journalist wins West Africa Journalist of the Year

An investigative journalist with The Punch daily newspaper in Nigeria, Tessy Igomu, has been adjudged the West Africa Journalist of the Year 2022.

Being the first female to win the ultimate prize, Tessy Igomu fought off competition from 24 journalists shortlisted for this year’s awards at the West Africa Media Excellence Conference and Awards (WAMECA).

Her story on the Yoyo Resources Recycling Limited Company, a Chinese-owned waste recycling company, exposed how pollution from the company took a toll on the health of some residents of Orimerunmu, a community in Ogun State in southwestern Nigeria.

According to Ms Igomu’s story, every night, as the company powered its furnace to produce pyrolysis oil, from tyre and plastic pyrolysis, bright flames illuminate the skyline, billowing dark smoke into the atmosphere.

“The soot generated by the Yoyo company’s activities is as light as air and very volatile, and is easily blown around by wind, seeping through tightly shut doors and windows in the beleaguered community. The soot also coats the entire community in black dust, while the palms and underfoot of residents wear a registered, permanent trade mark of black,” Ms Igomu’s story revealed.

The story pushed the state government to relocate the company, bringing relief to the people who had endured soot from polluted air for three years.

The story also won the best report on Environment.

Apart from being the first female journalist to win the respected award in the six-year history of the event Tessy Igomu also became the second Nigerian to become the WAMECA Journalist of the Year.  The first was Samad Uthman of Dataphyte, who shared the 2021 prize with a Ghanaian, Kwetey Nartey, last year.

I’m a daring person

Beaming with smiles, Ms Igomu said her award-winning story was a product of determination.

“I’m a daring person. When they say don’t go there, that’s where I want to go,” she told the cheering crowd in the packed auditorium.

In a clarion call to female journalists, she said “you can shatter the glass ceiling. You can do anything. Investigation is my calling, that is what I do, that is what I eat. It is in my blood.”

Tessy was part of the 25 finalists selected by a jury from 952 entries from a record 16 countries across the sub-region.

More female journalist

Judges for WAMECA expected the stories to be unique in angle, have context and hold power accountable.

A member of the WAMECA grand jury, Catherine Gicheru, while praising the 25 finalists also lamented the low number of female journalists who applied for the awards.

She, therefore, rallied media owners to encourage their female journalists to apply for the awards.

Her counterpart from Senegal, Tidiane Sy, urged journalists not to confuse in-depth reporting with long-winding stories with context that add nothing to the story.”

“In-depth reporting can be short and straightforward,” he said.

The full list of winners of WAMECA 2022 are:

Category: West Africa Journalist of the Year

Winner: Tessy Igomu

Media House: The Punch, Nigeria


Category: Environmental Reporting

Winner:  Tessy Igomu

Media House: The Punch, Nigeria

Category: Anti-Corruption Reporting

Winner: Adeola Oladipupo

Media House: Freelance, Nigeria


Category: Health Reporting

Winner: Basseratou Kindo

Media House: Mousso News, Burkina Faso   


Category: ICTs Reporting

Winner: Amos Abba

Media House: International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Nigeria


Category: Business Reporting   

Winner: Oladeinde Adewoyin

Media House:  Premium Times, Nigeria

Category: Women Empowerment Reporting

Winner: Nabole Ignance Ismael

Media House: Burkina24, Burkina Faso

 Category: Human Rights Reporting

Winner: Olatunji Ololade

Media House: The Nation, Nigeria

Category: Migration Reporting

Winner: Darcicio Francisco Jose Monteiro Barbosa

Media House: Bagunda TV/ TV Comunitaria, Guinea Bissau

Category: Investigative Reporting

Winners: Kwetey Nartey & Seth Kwame Boateng

Media House: Multimedia Group Limited, Ghana

Organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa, WAMECA honours exemplary work, in-depth investigations and exceptional storytelling.

Executive Director of the MFWA, Sulemana Braimah, in his welcome address, said WAMECA was the celebration of the best of the best of West African journalism.

He hoped “WAMECA awards will continue to inspire and motivate winners and at the same time inspire others to do more.”

The United States Ambassador to Ghana, Ambassador Virginia E. Palmer, observed that the celebration of journalists could not be taken for granted given the democratic recession in West Africa.

She took the opportunity to commit the United States government to a lifetime partnership with the Media Foundation for West Africa,

The US Embassy in Ghana, MTN Ghana, Stanbic Bank, UNESCO Ghana, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and CFI Media Development Sponsored the three-day conference and awards.

This year’s WAMECA was held under the theme, “The Media and Women Empowerment in Africa”

Share this story!

Related Stories