Vanguard Personality of the Year Awards 2018 held yesterday at Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos.
The event that witnessed an unusual human and vehicular traffic that kept the place abuzz all night, saw most of the awardees arrived accompanied by a retinue of aides, supporters and hero-worshippers; some with praise singers and even troupe of dancers singing and gyrating to the accompaniment of drums and other musical instruments.
Among those honoured last night for life time achievements were Alhaji Abdullahi Abubakar, the Barkin Ladi, Plateau State based Imam who saved hundreds of Christians during an attack by herdsmen last year, hotelier, activist and first female television producer in the country, Mrs. Rita Lori-Ogbebor, Rear Admiral Ndubisi Kanu former military governor of Lagos State and Erelu Abiola Dosunmu.
Also honoured yesterday for their life time achievements were first civilian governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, first Senior Advocate from Northern Nigeria and Alhaji Abdul Ganiyu Razaq.
Lawyer, nurse and educationist, Chief Leila Fowler, soldier turned right activist, Gen. Alani Akinrinade were also among the Lifetime Achievement recipients at the award ceremony yesterday.
Governors Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo) and Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto) went home with the Governor of the Year, 2018 award. Governors Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) were also duly awarded in the same category and were represented.
Mr. Peter Amangbo, managing director of Zenith Bank was recognized as the Banker of the Year and he was represented by the deputy managing director of the bank, Mr. Ebenzer Onyeagwu.
The Vanguard Personality of the Year, 2018 award was received by Mr. Tony Elumelu, chairman of Heirs Holdings, United Bank of Africa, Transcorp and founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, the platform he has used to empower many Africans across the continent.
Majority of the award recipients in seeming acknowledgment of their responsibility to the country were effusive in their call for the country to be redirected towards the correct path.
The urge was kickstarted by the chairman of the ceremony, Mbanefo who spoke after the editor-in-chief of Vanguard, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye formally welcomed the dignitaries on behalf of Vanguard publisher, Mr. Sam Amuka.
Noting the challenges facing the country, Mbanefo said:
“There is no doubt that our dear country Nigeria is facing a welter of challenges, particularly now that we are heading into the General Election in a few weeks time. Some of our difficulties have been pushed to the fore front particularly by politicians seeking office.
“Our political economy is hardly working; our education system is obviously not meeting its objectives; our healthcare delivery system is deplorable; our neglected water and food security threaten our future as a people; our physical infrastructure is broken; our ability energy sufficiently has overwhelmed our collective imagination. I can go on and on. In short Nigeria is not working. Period.
“The rest of the world has called us corrupt. They have described us as a people lacking focus and unclear as to what our needs as a nation are or should be.
“Nigerians are basically not corrupt. They just lack the basic quality of integrity; inability to speak the truth always, no matter what and be willing to accept genuine and constructive criticism instead of operating constantly in a state of self denial.
“I know that you are being honoured for the significant contributions you have made so far, but I know you can all do more to truly make a difference.
Some of you in my age bracket would say that they have already done a lot. To them, I will recommend the saying in the book of Proverbs: “Old men see visions and young men dream dreams.”
“It is in our hands to amend the brokenness of Nigeria and make it work again.
Your mentees are looking up to you for practical leadership. So ask yourself tonight: how can I make a difference? Remember, to whom much is given, much is expected.”
Another who spoke in that direction was Governor Tambuwal who while appreciating the award from Vanguard, called on the media to be pro-active in giving the country a correct direction.
“I will like to commend the Nigerian media and to appeal them to rise to the challenge of today.
“In 2015, I remember the role played by the media in liberating the country. And today, we will need more of that in the country. The unfolding developments in Nigeria are calling for more sober and serious reflection on those things.”
Also speaking when he received his award, Rear Admiral Kanu (rtd.) speaking against the background of his leading role in the fight for democracy during the Sani Abacha regime dedicated the award to those who soldiered with him in the struggle. He particularly mentioned former Ondo State governor, late Chief Michael Ajasin.
He, however, lamented that the struggle remained an unfinished business as he called on Nigerians to disregard ethnic divisions in their agitation for a better society.
“This award goes to those that have passed on and those still alive who fought for the struggle. I need to observe that it is still unfinished business. We have passed the torch to the next generation.
“Every ethnic groups in this country will remain irrespective of what happens. What is important is to have a central government that will hold us together unlike.
“And unless we go back to where we started as a country, everything else is taking us back.”
General Akinrinade also speaking noted the important value of the press as he recalled the influence of the column of Vanguard publisher, Amuka in the changing the culture of the military. He thus called on Nigerians to at this time support the press saying that “it could well be the last bastion of democracy.”
Among those present were former Delta State governor, Chief James Ibori, former Ogun State governor, Chief Segun Osoba, former governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa among many other dignitaries.
The pair of Zainab Balogun and popular stand up comedian, Bovi served as the masters of ceremony while Innocent Idibia aka Tuface, Adekunle Gold and others thrilled the crowd with good music.