How freelance Journalist, Onyi Sunday won big at the NMMA

When award-winning freelance journalist, Onyi Sunday conceptualised League of Extraordinary Nigerians, she did not envision it would win her not one, not to talk of two Nigeria Media Merit Awards for Radio Production of the Year and George Bako Prize for Radio Broadcadster of the Year.

This is Onyi Sunday’s 2nd and 3rd NMMA in one night; making it a total of 3 awards in the Electronic Media Category at the prestigious media awards.

Tired of the norm in the media which continues to feature politicians, money bags, influencers and the rest, she sets out to change the narrative. According to Ms. Sunday, Nigeria and its people were spiralling into a dark hole of hopelessness in humanity. From what she describes as episodes of failed governments to a lack of  true mentors, Onyi observed that the “Get Rich by all means” mentality had become the order of the day and the media was complicit in this agenda.

As a TV presenter, Features Producer and Reporter under paid employment, Onyi says she met individuals from all works of life, especially people whose extraordinary deeds often got lost on the mission to fill  headlines with the usual. “I met people and heard of others who are doing things that will make any sane person stop and question their purpose on earth,” she said.

When she approached 99.3 Nigeria Info FM with the idea in 2019, the station did not hesitate to partner with her on a series which sets out to tell the story of Ordinary Nigerians doing the extraordinary for humanity in spite of their own predicament.

Twenty three months after, the multi- talented journalist had featured the likes of Patrick Mbamarah, a School Proprietor in Ajegunle who collects plastic bottles as school fees from parents who are too poor to afford a N5000 school fee for their wards in Ajegunle.

The story of Iron Bar Etim-Bassey; the abandoned Olympian who is homeless but recognised as the number one humanitarian in Ajah. Dr. Bisi Adeniyi, a US-trained doctor who set up a clinic in Minna to cater to the poor and Foster Mother to 11 children including a boy born blind from birth but now sees with both, owing to surgery .

She also travelled to Kwara to see for herself and told the story of Samuel Omaka, a Corps member who completed 5 projects in 5 months without spending a dime. Samuel stopped a Fulani Community from drinking from the same pit as their cows, by facilitating the construction of a borehole in their community. There is also the case of Chess Master, Tunde Onakoya, who teaches chess in slums and has raised international champions; he was also featured alongside Georgietta Yehouenou, a 63-year-old disciplined traffic warden in Lagos.

As the pandemic hit and owing to lack of sponsorship, she couldn’t travel to continue telling these stories. “I approached organisations for sponsorship and they turned me down. I wasn’t surprised though. It’s not reality TV, entertainment and does not feature nudity. It’s our world today, its the norm, I guess.” She said.

Onyi doesn’t stop at just telling the story of the heroes, she highlights their predicament and by so doing, advocates for assistance to ease the heroes predicament. “All assistance I’ve ever gotten for our Extraordinary Nigerians have always been from my listeners; people who are touched by the stories I tell.”

The 25-minute show is almost 2 years on 99.3 Nigeria Info with no sponsorship; so it is understandable why the multiple win at the Nigeria Media Merit Award is such a huge deal.

Onyi plans to continue the show which is also on YouTube as long as a platform exists. She has worked as a Reporter/Producer as well as News Anchor at Channels TV, Silverbird, CNBC Africa and as Business Editor at News Central. She has also hosted a Pidgin Breakfast show for a year on Wazobia Max TV and pioneered “LOST TO THE HEADLINES” on 99.3 Nigeria Info.

She is a Voice Over Artist and added actress recently to her portfolio.

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