The Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji, has hailed Nigeria’s foremost print and digital media group, PUNCH Nigeria Limited, on what he described as the company’s “solid journalistic excellence” as it marks its 50th anniversary.

PUNCH, the publisher of the nation’s leading newspaper titles, The PUNCH, Saturday PUNCH, Sunday PUNCH, and PUNCH Online, clocked 50 on March 18, 2023.

However, its Board of Directors moved the 50th-anniversary celebration to this year because the anniversary month fell within an election month and year.

Hailing the company’s resolve to journalistic excellence, the governor, in a goodwill message he personally signed and addressed to the Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief of PUNCH Nigeria Limited, Mr Adeyeye Joseph, said it was satisfying that Nigerians still look to the company for reliable information despite the media space saturation.

The governor, in the message dated February 19, 2024, urged the PUNCH’s management to “ensure the outfit continues to be a trailblazer in print journalism”.

He also commended the company’s founding Chairman, late Chief Olu Aboderin, whom he said, his impetuous vision for a newspaper led to the establishment of the company which had remained a standard for media practice in the country.

The message read, “Let me congratulate the board, management, and staff of The PUNCH newspapers on the historic attainment of 50 years of solid journalistic excellence since it began in 1974.

“Special tribute to the founding proprietor of this great media organisation, late Chief Olu Aboderin, whose impetuous vision for a newspaper with the finest editorial independence and unparalleled professionalism remains the standard for media practice in Nigeria. It is also noteworthy that this golden jubilee of this newspaper coincides with the 40th anniversary of his transition to eternal glory. May his soul continue to rest in peace.

“PUNCH is one of the longest-living post-colonial media organisation in Nigeria that is well reputed for the best of media values. Due to its commitment to unblemished journalism that is characterised by impartiality, balance, truth, editorial discipline, and impeccable integrity,

“The PUNCH has survived the vicissitude of the ever-changing media ecosystem and remains on top in Nigeria as the best in many parameters of newspapering evaluation including daily sales, advert revenue, graphics, picture quality and commitment to the ideals of excellent journalism.

“I, therefore, want to heartily felicitate the management and staff, past and present, for sustaining the legacy of integrity with which the founders established the outfit. As a model not only for Nigeria but Africa, every effort must be made to ensure the outfit continues to be a trailblazer in print journalism. It is heartwarming to note that despite the saturation of the media space with the proliferation of online newspapers, many still look to media establishments like The PUNCH for reliable information.

“On behalf of the government and people of Ekiti State, kindly accept my warm congratulations on your golden jubilee celebration.”

Meanwhile, the company is set to roll out the drums to mark its 50th anniversary with an array of epoch-making ceremonies in Lagos.

The 50th anniversary will be marked with the 40th anniversary of the passing of the founding Chairman, the late Chief James Olubunmi Aboderin, who died on February 28, 1984, at the age of 50.

The weeklong celebration will start on Saturday, February 24 with a novelty match between Team PUNCH and the Nigeria Media XI, a team made up of journalists from other newspaper houses in the country.

The novelty match will take place at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena (formerly Onikan Stadium), Onikan, Lagos Island.

Both teams are being coached by two former Super Eagles players, Victor Agali and Brown Ideye.

Beginning on Wednesday, February 28, PUNCH will hold a three-day photo exhibition at the Alliance Francaise de Lagos/Mike Adenuga Centre, Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, to afford its readers and other Nigerians opportunities to view the best photographs from its extensive pictorial archive of the biggest news events in the nation’s history.

The high point of the anniversary is a distinguished public lecture to be held on Thursday, February 29 at the Civic Centre, Ozumba Mbadiwe Road, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The lecture is expected to play host to leaders from the public and private sectors.

The weeklong activities will continue on Saturday, March 2, 2024, at Eko Hotels and Suites in Lagos, where PUNCH will host a black-tie dinner to acknowledge the contributions of its stakeholders to the success of our organisation.

The anniversary’s grand finale is a staff party on March 9 at which current and former staff will be feted for their contributions to PUNCH’s successes.

A special commemorative anniversary publication to mark the golden jubilee anniversary of the newspaper will also be distributed at some of the events.