Two UDUS Journalists Win 1500 Dollars Grants To Write Stories On Religious Extremism

By Abdulrasheed Akere

Two campus journalists of Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto (UDUS), Abdulwasiu Olokooba and Abdulrasheed Hammad have won 1500 dollars grants to write stories on religious extremism for International Center For Journalists or ICFJ.

In early June 2023, four UDUS campus journalists flew out of Sokoto to Kano to attend Code for Africa-ICFJ-Fellowship training on religious extremism, two of the four students have won a grant of $750 each, altogether $1500 which is equivalent to 1,155,600.00 Nigerian Naira.

The fellowship was fully funded by ICFJ in collaboration with Code For Africa (CFA), an International fact-checking platform based in Kenya. After the Kano training, participants were asked to submit story pitches in which 11 were shortlisted out of over 20 pitches submitted for the grant.

Coincidentally, the two awardees from UDUS, Abdulwasiu Olokooba and Abdulrasheed Hammad are 500-level Law students and hail from the same hometown, Ilorin in Kwara state. Also, Olokooba happens to be the current president of the National Association of Campus Journalists (NACJ-UDUS) while Hammad is his vice.

The media organization sent congratulatory messages to the awardees via email. The mail read in parts, “Congratulations! We would like to thank you for completing the course and submitting your story idea under the “In The Name Of Religion” project. We are happy to inform you that your story has been selected for a two-month facilitation grant. This grant will provide you with resources and support to conduct research and develop your story. Additionally, you will be paired with an expert mentor who will guide you in data collection, management, and investigative research during this two-month period.”

“Kindly be informed that the two-month period for the grant will commence upon the signing of the grant agreement. Our partners from the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), Aliza Appelbaum and Rebecca Blessing, have been copied in this email. They will be contacting you to coordinate the finalization of the contractual and payment procedures,” it added.

In an interview with Abdulwasiu Olokooba, he explained that “Being selected as one of the grant awardees is truly motivating. It’s a testament to my progress. While certainty is beyond our control, I believe that my efforts in the process have made me a deserving awardee.”

“Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. Losing an opportunity does not mean you are not competent or not giving your best. It simply means you should try again,” he encouraged fellow journalists.

The other grant awardee from UDUS, Abdulrasheed Hammad, expressed his joy at the achievement. “I am thrilled to be among the recipients whose story pitches were accepted by ICFJ. I express my gratitude to Almighty Allah for deeming my story idea worthy of funding,” he said.

Hammad considered this accomplishment to be great because it is funded by international platforms. Although he provided all the necessary details in his pitch, he was still surprised. “I didn’t see it coming, and it came as a pleasant surprise that makes me happy,” he added.

Hammad expressed his appreciation to ICFJ and CFA for the training opportunity, which allowed him to explore his potential, and he looks forward to further learning during the two-month grant period.

He advised fellow campus journalists to continue their work, persevere, maintain consistency, and write impactful stories, whether compensated or not. “Keep applying for opportunities. The time will come to reward your dedication, and you will be surprised,” he emphasized.

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