The annual award ceremony of the Nigeria Pitch Awards is here again and as usual, excitement, anxiety, and expectations among nominees, their supporters, and football fans are mounting. The award ceremony is billed to kick-off two hours after the second leg clash between age-old rivals, Nigeria and Ghana for a slot at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later in the year. The excitement is palpable and the wait appears endless.
As preparations continue, organizers have restated their commitment to the ideals of transparency, credibility, and integrity as the Nigeria Pitch Awards continues on its historic stride as the country’s longest-running football awards.
Mr. Shina Philips, the President of the awards explains that there is a tripartite arrangement that ensures that no single group has full control of the award process. ‘The award process’, he said, ‘involves three categories. First, we have the College of Voters comprising about 200 experienced and professional sports editors, analysts, columnists, correspondents and reporters who make the award decisions independently.’
Speaking further, Philips noted that no voter is paid or influenced in any way and by any means to make award decisions. ‘The College of Judges are not paid. These voters are professional men and women who put their integrity on the line by making incontrovertible decisions that can stand the test of time. The decisions are without doubt based on very well-thought analyses and premises. This has clearly reflected in the wide acceptance of winners since 2013.’
The shortlist, Philips explains, comprises the names of the top three nominees with the highest points in each category. The nominee with the highest score among the top three is announced as winner at the award ceremony.
Mr. Philips noted that Matchmakers Consult International are the last category of people involved in the award process. ‘We only midwife the entire process. We are not involved in the voting or collation process. The company’s responsibility is to organize an award ceremony which Nigerians can be proud of.’
‘The integrity of the award process is essential to sustaining popular interest in the awards. People who vote must be confident that their votes will not be altered and that their decisions will be adequately reflected. Those who emerge as nominees and winners must be proud to be so honoured knowing that the process leading to their emergence was credible and transparent.’
Speaking on the future of the award, Mr. Philips said the award is self-sustaining. ‘In addition to the votes by our primary voters, that is, the sport editors, we are looking at expanding the voter base to include members of the public for some categories. However, we will leave our College of Voters to make that decision in due course’, he concluded.