The newly elected President of the West Africa Journalist Association (WAJA) and former President of the Press Union of Liberia Friday evening (May 16) won the country’s highest journalism award (Journalist of the Year) but dedicated the prize to young journalists in the country.

The astute journalist led the PUL for nearly a decade before he stepped down last December after serving two consecutive presidential terms. He was elected President of Waja recently, after serving the regional journalism body as treasure for at least two years.

 Quaqua was named Journalist of the Year of the year because of his achievement over the year in the defense of journalist and bringing pride to journalism in Liberian by becoming the country’s first journalist to head Waja, PUL officials said.

 Receiving the award, during the Awards Night and Dinner, and elated Quaqua said he was very stunned to be named as Journalist of the Year. “I am very overwhelmed and surprised for this recognition,” he stated, dedicating the award to all Liberian journalists.

Barely three days later on Monday, Quaqua said he was dedicating the prize of the award, estimated at US$5,000 to train two deserving journalist as a way of strengthening their capacities.

The following is his statement: “I remain profoundly grateful to the leadership of the Press Union of Liberia for its continuing show of solidarity and honor for my contribution to the journalism practice in Liberia.  I believe my recognition on Friday night at the Union’s annual awards ceremony as ‘Journalists of the Year’, though surprising, further celebrates my recent achievement in the West African Journalists Association, where I was elected President.

“As former President of the PUL, I enjoyed every bit of my time defending journalists’ rights and the space in which they operate – nothing else excites me more. Let me pay tribute to the many young reporters who have remained true to their calling in spite of the extremely difficult conditions they have to ply their trade. Oh how I wish one of them had been recognized. I therefore wish to donate the prize to the Union to strengthen the capacity of any two reporters who have demonstrated a measured of intelligence and courage in their work.

 “I feel indebted to the Press Union and pledge my continued support and solidarity in championing the cause of free speech, press freedom and social justice in Liberia. This is a life time commitment.”

 Meanwhile, the following is a full list of winners of the 2014 PUL award:

Peter Quaqua, Journalist of the Year; Evelyn Kpadeh, Human Rights Reporter; Evelyn Kpadeh, Development Reporter – Broadcast; Roland Perry,Development Reporter –Print; Varmah Kamara, Sports Reporter; Prince Collins, Business & Economics Reporter; Mae Azango, Women Rights Reporter; Anthony Stephens, Environmental Reporter; In-Profile Daily, Newspaper of the Year; ELBC, Radio Station of the Year; Power TV, TV Station of the Year; and Super Bongese, Bong County, Community Radio of the Year.