- Ambode, Wike, Saraki lock down Lagos
- As The Sun honours 23 eminent Nigerians
The crème of Nigeria’s political class, industry, professions, sports and entertainment will converge on Lagos, the nation’s commercial capital, today to celebrate 23 distinguished Nigerians being honoured at The Sun Awards.
This year’s edition of the annual red carpet ceremony, reputed to be the biggest media and entertainment event in the country, coincides with the 15th anniversary of The Sun Publishing Ltd, publishers of the Daily Sun, Saturday Sun, Sunday Sun and Sporting Sun, Nigeria’s highest selling newspaper titles.
Venue is the Expo Convention Centre, Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island and time 4.00pm
The Sun Awards has been hosted since 2004 by the newspaper company to recognize and promote excellence, innovation, integrity and courage. Today’s occasion is being chaired by former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu.
Among the dignitaries expected at the awards are state governors being led by Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and his Rivers, Ebonyi and Kebbi states’ counterparts, Nyesom Wike, Dave Umahi and Alhaji Atiku Bagudu; Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki; members of the National Assembly; The Emir of Kano, Mallam Muhammad Sanusi II; wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Hajia Aisha Buhari; CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele; Managing Director/CEO, Niger Delta Development Commission, Nsima Udo Ekere, serving and ex-ministers, members of the diplomatic corps, notable politicians and statesmen.
Leading the pack from the private sector are: renowned industrialist and chairman, Doyin Group, Prince Samuel Adedoyin; Chairman/Chief Executive, Oilserv Group, Dr. Emeka Okwuosa; Founder/Chairman, Chicason Group of Companies, Alexander Chika Okafor; Managing Director/CEO, Zenith Bank Plc, Peter Amangbo and President/CEO of Beloxxi Industries, Obi Ezeude.
A host of celebrities from Nollywood and the entertainment industry, notably Hip hop rave, Ayodeji Balogun, a.k.a. Wizkid and popular comedian and film maker, Ayo Makun (AY) and music superstar, Tuface Idibia will be adding glitz and glamour to the ceremony.
Idibia is the main act among an ‘A’ list of entertainers to thrill guests.
Also to grace the occasion is former Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, Prof. Grace Alele-Williams; Second Republic Minister, Malam Ismaila Isa Funtua; renowned philanthropist, Senator Osita Izunaso; rights activist, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin; the President, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Mr. Amaju Pinnick and Super Eagles’ Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr.
Apart from those listed above, who are all recipients, the awards ceremony is expected to draw to the exquisite venue, a whispering distance from the breezy Marina and the Atlantic Ocean, their friends, family members, colleagues and associates including those of Mr. Chukwudi Iboko, the police Sergeant, who lost his life battling bandits in the Owerri, Imo State bank robbery early last year. The deceased brave policeman is being honoured with The Sun Hero of the Year Award.
They will be received by the Chairman, The Sun Publishing Ltd, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu and the Managing Director, Mr. Eric Osagie.
With the volume and calibre of dignitaries pouring in from different parts of the country for the soiree, Lagos may witness a total lockdown, as it had done on previous editions of the awards.
For one, the presence of the invited guests and political heavyweights, many of whom have confirmed their intention to attend the ceremony, is expected to jack up socio-economic activities on the Island.
Specifically, the city’s economy is certain to get fattened by business patronage by the visitors, who started arriving yesterday and are not expected to leave until tomorrow, especially with respect to hotel accommodation, eateries and leisure/recreational haunts.
Already Saturday Sun learnt that Eko Hotels and Suites and many other guest lodgings in Victoria Island, Lekki and environs had witnessed tremendous increase in bookings by midweek.
As it were, the annual media extravaganza has sparked off huge excitement among both the awardees and invitees.
Confirming his acceptance to be chairman at The Sun Awards in a telephone conversation with the MD/EIC, Mr. Osagie, Prof. Kalu enthused that it would be both a pleasure and honour presiding at the event where “Nigeria’s best’ are being recognized.
“I’m delighted to be chosen as chairman of The Sun Awards ceremony. The awards are prestigious and I am happy to be part of the event. Recognising Nigeria’s best is something I want to identify with,” Kalu, a past winner of The Sun Lifetime Achievement Award” said.
Governor Ambode, who will be conferred with The Sun Man of the Year Award at today’s event, described the awards of the newspaper as the most credible and prestigious recognitions in the country.
The governor, whose unanimous choice by the Editorial Board of The Sun for the award was in recognition of the “remarkable transformations” he brought to bear on education, health, agriculture, transportation, security, youth development, infrastructure and utility, among other sectors in the ‘acquatic’ state, said he accepted the award because of the credibility attached to The Sun awards.
He praised The Sun for its achievements and conduct over the years and expressed happiness that its awards were conferred without “inducements.”
His words: “I’m pleased to receive The Sun award because there was no inducement or encumbrance. What you have done, that is, the award, is for Lagosians. This is because it is a reflection that people are enjoying what we are doing.”
His Rivers State counterpart, Wike, who, for the first time in the 15 years history of The Sun Awards, emerged as the Governor of the Year back-to-back, having also won it last year, said the diadem would serve as a big motivation for his administration to do more in the socio-economic development of the state and the people.
The Rivers helmsman remarked that The Sun Awards had proved to be a worthy recognition for people genuinely making the difference.
“This award will spur us to do more, be much better, to focus and continue to provide the necessary infrastructure for the development of the state,” he said.
Governor Wike, who won the prize for his incessant groundbreaking infrastructural projects across Rivers State also said his government would not relent in its developmental drive, even as he stressed: “…We are not tired of working… That is true. For us, we have no choice than to work and put in our best.”
Also, the Emir of Kano, Mallam Sanusi II, who bagged The Sun Courage in Leadership Award, described it as a worthy honour.
According to the foremost traditional ruler, who is being garlanded for consistently speaking truth to power on how Nigeria could be moved forward, especially socially, politically and economically before and even after his ascension, said any honour based on recognition of good cause was welcomed.
The monarch, who expressed gratitude for being chosen as winner of the award, however, insisted that what people may call fearless, which is one of the attributes that earned him the honour was secondary, explaining that what was more important was “speaking the truth.”
His words: “It is not fearlessness that matters. It is speaking the truth. Leaders should be told the truth at all times. That way, they would know what is happening and from there make adjustments, for the benefit of the people.”
On the bill to anchor proceedings at The Sun Awards 2017 is popular On-Air-Personality and compere, Ikponwosa Osakioduwa (a.k.a IK).
The evening will also be spiced with music by a live band amid witty cracks by comedians, to complement Tuface’s performance.
The awards… The winners…
Memo from the Managing director/Editor-in-chief
Every November, precisely the third week, editors of The Sun newspapers, sit across the long table in the company’s boardroom to deliberate on one of the most important items in its annual calendar: The Sun Awards.
The Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief has the rare honour and privilege of chairing the event of this August body, which has in its fold directors, title editors and other top editors.
At robust and heated debate sessions, spanning no less than two days, Nigerians from all walks of life are x-rayed and subjected to intense scrutiny. The purpose? To pick the best of the pack, in the different categories we have created in the recognition, celebration and honour of some of Nigeria’s finest men and women. The stars of The Sun. The men and women who made the critical difference in the year under review.
This year, 2017, was no different. It was, as usual, challenging, the task of selecting and nominating 24 eventual winners, in a country as large and talented as ours.
The Board of Editors threw up names, rejected those it thought didn’t meet the mark, and vigorously defended its nominees and eventual winners.
In all, it was guided by the hallowed and eternal principles The Sun has continued to hold dear and firm since the Awards debuted 15 years ago: Integrity. Excellence. These two qualities remain, for us, unassailable and non-negotiable. They are the reasons The Sun Awards remain the Biggest and Most Credible Media Event in Nigeria today (apologies for the immodesty).
So, here we go. Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, the quiet but efficient governor of Lagos State, wins Man of the Year 2017, for his impacting strides in regenerating the Lagos dream, and making the mega city, a city of possibilities, where things work, where life is less stressful especially with the traffic gridlock, where rapid urbanisation is a wonderful experience.
Chief Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers State, retains the Governor of the Year diadem he won last year. Reason: He’s the work machine, who has proven unstoppable. He continues to daze the people of Rivers State with sterling performance in infrastructural delivery and projects.
Nigeria’s First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari wins the Most Supportive First Lady award for consistently speaking truth to power and for the immense contributions of her non-governmental organization, Future Assured Initiative, to the quality of life of many ordinary citizens across the country.
The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II and Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki won the Courage in Leadership and Outstanding Politician of the Year Awards respectively.
The Nigerian Hero of the Year award went to the late Police Sergeant Chukwudi Iboko.
Business icon and Founder /Executive Chairman of Chicason Group of Companies was voted Business Personality of the Year. Chief Obi Ezeude, founder, president/chief executive officer of Beloxxi Industries Limited, makers of Beloxxi Biscuits emerged Manufacturer of the Year, while the Investor of the Year Award went to the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Oilserv Group, Dr Emeka Okwuosa.
The Banker of the Year is the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Peter Amangbo.
Two Governors, Engr David Umahi of Ebonyi State and Senator Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State jointly won the diadem for Outstanding Performance in Agriculture.
The Public Service Award was also jointly won by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr Godwin Emefiele and the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Nsima Udo Ekere.
For the Lifetime Achievement Awards, four distinguished personalities are winners: They are: first woman university vice chancellor in the country, Professor Grace Alele-Williams; foremost industrialist, Prince Samuel Adedoyin; frontline veteran journalist, Mallam Ismaila Isa Funtua, and renowned Aba-based business tycoon and entrepreneur, Elder Emma Adaelu.
The duo of the President of the Nigerian Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Pinnick and the Technical Adviser of the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr are joint winners of the Sport Personality of the Year.
Senator Osita Izunaso with his life changing Kpakpando Foundation and Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, rights activist and president, Women Arise also jointly won the Humanitarian Service Award.
The Creative Personality of the Year is Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun popularly known as Wizkid. Popular comedian, Ayo Makun (AY) clinched the Nollywood Personality of the Year.
The reason we set aside the Nigerians above for recognition is clear: They set themselves apart from the pack.
As Matshona Dhliwayo rightly says: “In a world full of game players, the only way to set yourself apart is to be a game changer.”
Our 2017 awardees are Nigeria’s game changers. The pacesetters. And we salute them!
Toast to a model performer
The Sun Man Of The Year ( Akinwunmi Ambode )
Across Nigeria, his name reverberates in effusive decibels. In Abuja or Abia, in Zamfara or Zaria, wherever and whenever issues of development and exemplary governance are at the core of public conversations, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s inimitable accomplishments are celebrated in flattering superlatives. Even bards and songsters panegyrise the governor’s catchphrase, Itesiwaju Eko, in poetic verses and fulsome musical renderings.
And it cannot but be so. In the past 30 months, the Epe-born accounting expert has sedulously redefined public administration in Nigeria’s commercial capital, leaving ineffaceable footprints all over the state.
Ambode hit the ground running immediately after his inauguration as governor on May 29, 2015. He started by rejuvenating and restructuring the state civil service. Then a fresh breath was injected into the state’s public health system. The general hospitals were equipped with modern facilities. Dozens of brand new Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) ambulances as well as transport ambulances were procured for the health institutions in the state. New structures sprung up in many health facilities.
Determined to birth a new Lagos operating on a 24-hour economy, Ambode initiated the Light-Up Lagos project, which ensured the provision of streetlights all over the state.
On November 27, 2015, Ambode left millions of Nigerians with mouths hanging open in unabashed incredulity. On that day, the governor handed over 100 salon cars, 55 Ford Ranger pick-up vans, 10 Toyota Land Cruiser pick-up vans, 15 BMW power bikes, 100 power bikes, Isuzu trucks, three helicopters, two gun boats, 15 armoured personnel carriers and a number of other security gadgets valued at N4.765 billion to the Nigeria Police for the safety of Lagos dwellers.
Ambode’s partnership with the Kebbi State government resulted in the popular LAKE Rice. Artisans and physically-challenged people are being empowered from time to time. Town hall meetings are held across the state every quarter. Hundreds of new roads have been constructed while scores of others are being built, all with walkways and streetlights, in all parts of the state. Ambode’s urban renewal initiatives have ensured the incredible metamorphosis of Epe, Abule-Egba, Ojodu-Berger, Lekki, with new flyovers making life better for commuters. Oshodi has since become a huge construction site, even as new lay-bys at congested bus stops are shrinking the gridlocks in the mega city.
Born on June 14, 1963, the governor served in various capacities in the Lagos State Civil Service for 27 years before voluntarily retiring. Married to Bolanle and blessed with children, the 14thGovernor of Lagos, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode is The Sun Man of the Year 2017.
The Work Machine, The Unstoppable
Governor of the year ( Nyesom Ezenwo Wike Governor, Rivers State )
Lest We Forget, The Mission Of Rivers State Government Is “To Actualise The Aspirations Of The People Of Rivers State For Balanced Development And Enhanced Quality Of Life For The Present And Future Generations Through Responsive Governance Guided By The Fear Of God.” But It Takes A Leader With Vision To Bestir The Apparatus Of Governance To Engineer Remarkable Development.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike Has Crossed The Rubicon. Just Like He Did In 2016, Governor Nyesom Wike Has Replicated His Midas Touch In Governance By Making Previous Achievements Look Like A Mere Dot. Like A Matador, He Goes Into The Ring, And The Bull Of Stasis Is Taken Out With His Exertions. Any Wonder He Has Emerged The Sun Governor Of The Year In Quick Succession?
Good Governance, Among Others, Revolves Around Equitable Distribution Of Projects, Judicious Use Of Resources To Impact Lives And Being Considerate To The Citizens, Intent On Galvanizing The Wheel Of Progress. Wike Has Scored An A In Massive Infrastructural, Community, Health Development And Educational Development.
Governor Wike Does Not Do Anything By The Half. For Him, There Is No Need Being Content With The Lollypop When The Gourmet Is Just By The Corner. Every Zone In The State Has Been Impacted In No Small Measure. Some Of His Most Visible Infrastructure Projects Are The Construction And Repair Of Roads Across Every Local Governments In The State, Such As The Dualisation Of The Rumukurushi/Eneka/Igwurruta Road; The Construction And Rehabilitation Of The Chokocho/Umuechem/Ozuzu Road And The Construction Of The Second Nkpogu Bridge In Obio Akpor Local Government Area.
His Administration’s Operation Zero Pothole Has Seen Several Roads In The State Capital, Port Harcourt, Being Rehabilitated Within A Short Time. He Has Also Ensured The Total Clampdown On Cultists And Related Criminal Activities Across The State, Confiscation Of Assets Derived From Kidnapping And Other Related Crimes To Make The State A Haven Of Peace To Live And Do Business.
Thus, Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Declared During A State Dinner Organised In His Honour After A Project Tour In May This Year: “I Think He Deserves The Title Of ‘Mr. Projects’.”
In The Education Sector, Previously Abandoned State-Owned Schools, Which Included, Government Girls Secondary School, Rumuokwuta; Birabi Memorial Grammar School, Bori; Government Secondary School, Ogu; And Nyemoni Grammar School, Abonnema, Have Been Given A Facelift.
Just As He Is Committed To Development, Governor Wike’s Shrill Voice Has Consistently Echoed In National Sphere, Like A John The Baptist In The Wilderness, In His Pursuit Of Justice And Equity. He Noted Recently At The 57Th Independence Speech At The Sharks Stadium, Port Harcourt, On October 1: “We All Crave For Strong National Institutions To Support Our Democracy, Protect Our Freedoms And Advance Our Development.”
From The Completion Of The Nebo Graham Douglas Building In The Faculty Of Law, Rivers State University, To A Befitting Jetty Built For The Reverine Communities Of Bonny, Bille And Nembe, To The New Specialist Hospital Designed To Stem The Foreign Trips By Nigerians For Healthcare Service, One Thing Is Clear: Governor Wike Is A Leader With A Performance Streak.
And Nothing Beats The Accolades Of Peers. The Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, In Recognition Of His Towering Height, Said Of Governor Wike During His Recent Visit To The State Capital, Umuahia: “I Count Governor Wike As A Special Blessing, Not Only To Our People, But To Human Kind.”
The Skillful Player
Outstanding Politician Of The Year ( Bukola Saraki )
His political trajectory is strewn with immense vitality and intriguing wrap-ups that come with befuddling and intense bravado. As governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011, the state was a compact mass of cohesive web to the point that he weaved a political dynasty that outweighed that of his father, the late Oloye, the acclaimed strongman of Kwara politics and which throbs in sensation to this day.
As chairman of the then influential Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, he infused a stamp of authority, guts and dread on it which trumped it up as the alter-government in power. Now, fast forward to his intricate wash-up as Senate president some 30 odd months back and a thriller of a story book is written in all its dramatic forms and elements.
Bukola Saraki’s story as politician is filled with intense awe, prescience, drive and sunshine. It shapes like a moon walk complete with lightening dazzles. He mangles all calculations and dazes incipient formidable oppositions oftentimes into submission. From an unsure, decrepit, wobbling 8th Senate at inception in June 2015, he has built a rock-solid front that has metamorphosed into a fortress of activism and atavistic courage.
His Senate, despite the rolling barbs of chicanery has kept the Presidency on its toes, carved an image of progressive politics, ensured a steadying nexus of stability, envisioned a pragmatic thread of telling influence on the nation and polity, and stirs hope in apprehension and despair. Operating in an environment where Executive- Legislature face-offs have become a pastime, he has stealthily walked over several landmines and crushed fiefdoms that threatened his reign.
Today, trapped in political stardom and its trappings, Saraki’s name dons the lips of many bookmakers in the calculations for the 2019 presidential race. And this is without twin peaks or eerie shocks. Saraki is here; he burrowed like a cricket, sojourned like a fox, battled like a trojan, overcame like a domino spirit. He says without saying it that when something bad happens, you have three choices- either you let it define you, let it destroy you, or you let it strengthen you. He resonates with John C Maxwell that ‘you don’t overcome challenges by making them smaller but by making yourself bigger.”
He was born on December 19, 1962 and is a medical doctor by profession. He is married to Toyin, nee Ojora and they have four children.
Emir Muhammad Sanusi II: Speaking truth to power
Courage in Leadership Award ( HRH Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II )
Courage, They Say, Is Leadership. That Is Exactly What The Current Emir Of Kano And Winner Of The Sun Courage In Leadership Award 2017, Muhammad Sanusi 11, Has Exhibited Over The Years, Whenever He Finds Himself In Any Leadership Position.
He First Shot Into Limelight In Public Discourse In 1999, When He Took The Then Zamfara State Governor, Ahmed Sani Yerima To The Cleaners, For Implementing Sharia, Without First Putting In Place Relevant Architecture That Would Make The Implementation Of Such A Law In Multi-Religious Society Like Nigeria Seamless.
Again In 2001, Sanusi In His Usual Manner Criticised The Then Kano State Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso’s Handling Of Kano State’s Affairs. The Government Responded Through Its Finance Commissioner Then, Dr. Hafiz Abubakar.
But In Sanusi’s Response, He Tongue-Lashed Both The Governor And The Commissioner, Describing The State’s Economy Under Kwankwaso As One Of “Ajinomoto” Or “Kafi Zabo” Economics.
In The End, The Kano State Government Protested To The United Bank For Africa (Uba). Sanusi Was Asked To Apologise Or Risk Losing His Job.. He Did Not Apologise. Instead He Resigned And Joined First Bank Plc.
Again When He Was To Be Appointed The Central Bank Governor (Cbn), By The Late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, Sanusi, At The Screening Session Criticised Yar’adua’s Seven-Point Agenda, Advising The President To Reduce It To Three.
As Cbn Governor, He Did Not Stop Speaking Truth To Power. He Raised The Alarm Over The Mismanagement Of The Country’s Finances Under President Goodluck Jonathan, An Action That Earned Him Sack From The Government.
As Emir, Sanusi Has Not Budged An Inch. He Remained True To His Conscience. He Had Also Taken On The Incumbent Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Advising Him To Set His Priorities Right In Administering The State. The Government Moved Against Him And Almost Got Him Booted Out Of His Throne, Before Reason Was Allowed To Prevail Over Sentiment.
Sanusi, A 1981 Graduate Of Economics From The Ahmadu Bello University (Abu), Zaria, Was Born 56 Years Ago, Into The Fulani Torobe Of Sullubawa Clan, In Kano State. His Father, Muhammad Lamido Sanusi, Was A Career Diplomat And Technocrat, Who Served As The Nigerian Ambassador To Belgium, China And Canada. He Also Served As The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry Of Foreign Affairs. Sanusi Is The Grandson Of The 11Th Emir Of Kano, Sir Muhammadu Sanusi.
Outstanding Performance in Agric
Advocate of food for all ( Engr Dave Umahi )
While offering himself to the service of Ebonyi people, Engineer Dave Umahi said: “I see an Ebonyi that will be the food basket of Nigeria. I’ll pursue an integrated policy of economic development and transformation anchored on agro-industrialization.”
Few years after, he has delivered on his promise. Indeed, some people refer to him as “David of our generation” because he has changed the narrative of the state.
His policies are well thought-out and exhaustively researched, resulting in economic revival within a short period. Today, Ebonyi State has transformed into a rich agricultural zone with rice as the main produce.
The Umahi administration has revolutionized rice farming. So, when you talk about local rice in Nigeria, Ebonyi Rice comes to mind because of the taste and quality. And this has reinforced local self-reliance.
Over the years, Engineer Dave, as he is popularly called, has demonstrated uncommon leadership qualities. Perhaps, he was born to lead. Growing up, he provided leadership to his peers. A workaholic, he throws everything in him into any project he sets his mind on.
Umahi was not a product of comfort. For someone with his humble background, education provided the only route to success and he made the most of it.
Born to the family of Elder and Deaconess Joseph Umahi Nweze in Umunaga Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, he attended Umunaga Primary School in Uburu from 1971-1977 where he passed with distinction. He commenced his secondary education at Ishiagu High School in 1978 but transferred to the Government Secondary School, Afikpo in 1979. He passed his WASC Examinations in Division 1 grade with excellent Alpha performances in Statistics, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Additional Mathematics. He emerged library prefect on account of his extraordinary academic brilliance.
He obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from Anambra State University of Science and Technology in 1987. He was elected into the students’ parliament as a senator representing Engineering Faculty. As always, he distinguished himself.
Between 1988 and 1989, he did his National Youth Corps Service (NYSC) programme in Benin City, Edo State and was honoured with the state award for his outstanding performance. Over the years, he demonstrated his managerial and technical competence as he handled major projects.
A successful contractor and businessman, he had interests in various areas. From 2007, he has held various political positions such as acting state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), state chairman of the PDP, Chairman, Governing Board of the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, Delta State, deputy governor and governor.
He is a member of many professional bodies and a philanthropist extraordinaire.
It is no surprise that The Sun voted this performer winner of Outstanding Performance Award in Agriculture.
The Rice Man of Kebbi ( Alhaji Atiku Bagudu )
Prior to the coming of the present administration , issues about economic diversification from a mono product had formed the bulk of discussions in seminars, workshops, summits, etc. But Sen. Atiku Bagudu, the Governor of Kebbi State, took it a notch higher and moved the talks to the farmlands, thus making Kebbi today Nigeria’s rice production hub.
Kebbi is now the cynosure of all eyes in Nigeria and even beyond. Kebbi is now a demonstration of how a well thought out agricultural economy can propel Nigeria’s growth and indeed the growth of serious nations.
Economists have always argued that investments in agriculture are the fastest ways to create jobs and harness the potentials of millions of youths who constantly run the streets in search of non-existent white collar jobs. Being an economist himself Bagudu has brought this message home.
Bagudu also understands the place of peace in the achievement of any proposed economic model or policy. This accounts for reason he has worked so tirelessly since 2015 to insulate Kebbi State from being a flashpoint of both religious and political upheavals. He has done this through strategic engagements of the diverse groups and interests in the state.
Evidence of this is seen in the high yield of Kebbi rice which has attracted huge investments from different investors including Olam farms which recently commissioned the largest rice mill in the country in Kebbi. The rice mill, which was commissioned by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo is the practical demonstration of the value-chain that Atiku Bagudu is creating out of rice alone. This is the reason many Nigerians in different parts of the country including Lagos now enjoy the tasteful Lake Rice which is the outcome of a business partnership model between Lagos and Kebbi states . In December 2016 the first batch of Lake Rice hit Lagos State and it was a relief for thousands of families who had become weary of the very expensive imported option. That experience was repeated during the Muslim festival of Eid-el-Kabir in Lagos and other states .
Indigenes of Kebbi State, nay all Nigerians will always be grateful to Sen. Bagudu. That the Federal Government recently stepped out to boast that the country was inching towards achieving self sufficiency in rice production is courtesy of Kebbi State .
Local farmers, who hitherto, bemoaned low patronage and lack of government support, are becoming millionaires by the minute. All thanks to the magic wand of the Rice Man, Governor Bagudu.
While other governors are still battling to settle backlog of workers’ salaries, Governor Bagudu, through his wide network and relationship with the Federal Government, has secured the nod of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which flagged off the Anchor Borrowers programme on dry season rice and wheat farming. This initiative was launched in 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari in Kebbi State.
The scheme, Godwin Emefiele the CBN governor said, was aimed at creating economic linkages between over 600,000 smallholder farmers and reputable large-scale processors with a view to increasing agricultural output and significantly improving capacity utilisation of integrated mills.
Today, other states are queuing up to learn from the astute agriculture maestro of Kebbi State, how to run a 21st century agro-based economy. For Governor Bagudu, this is just a scratch. The revolution is just starting. If you are still in doubt, maybe a visit to Kebbi State will erase it. It is in appreciation of his sterling performance in agricultural development and rice revolution that ballot of The Sun fell on him for Outstanding Performance Award in Agriculture.
First Lady with the masterstroke
Most supportive First Lady ( Hajia Aisha Buhari )
Very little was known about Aisha Buhari until the latter part of the last presidential campaign. While some of those averse to President Muhammadu Buhari’s quest for the highest political office had a field day portraying him as one that has no regards for the womenfolk, others claimed he had kept his wife in purdah, an Islamic practice that espoused the seclusion of women from the public.
Aisha Buhari’s sudden appearance with her husband and other party chieftains at the All Progressives Congress (APC) rally on 13 January, 2015 at the M.K.O Abiola Stadium in Abeokuta, Ogun State stunned Nigerians and changed the opposition’s narrative.
To the amazement of his traducers, President Buhari is not just married to anybody, but a woman who is a combination of brain and beauty.
Handling the constant verbal attacks on her husband with robust engagements and a polished demeanor, she successfully mobilized women for her husband. Her likeable mien further helped to swing voters in her husband’s favour.
In Nigeria’s political space, First Ladies traditionally execute social programmes aimed at enhancing the livelihood of the people, especially women and the poor. Her Excellency, Aisha Buhari through her non-governmental organisation, Future Assured Initiative, has been doing this and much more. But beyond this, she has taken the first ladyship to another level.
In defence of the electorate, a position she took to ensure her husband’s government fulfils its electoral promises unimpeded, she on one occasion granted the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) an interview in which she accused a cabal within the Presidency of having hijacked the government to the detriment of those who worked assiduously to make Buhari president.
In defiance of the norm, which dictates that first ladies aligned with the aspirations of their husbands no matter what, she boldly noted she would not campaign for her husband’s reelection if the status quo remained.
Her candid statement was prompted by the loud cries from Nigerians who were complaining that they were yet to see the ‘change’ APC promised. As a loving wife and mother, she felt that Nigerians should know the true position of things. That her husband has been quarantined from the reality of the country’s situation by a group of persons, whom she believed, wanted to give him a bad name. So, she to had stand up and fight back. A fight which most Nigerians took over from her, making those affected to either sit up or be shipped out.
In a similar circumstance, she called for the probe of the State House Clinic for lacking basic facilities despite huge budgetary allocation to it.
A quintessential First Lady, her concern for the welfare of the ordinary Nigerian is amazing. No wonder, in acknowledgement of her charities, she is fondly called ‘Mother of the Nation’.
Aisha Buhari (Nee Ribadu) hails from Adamawa State, North-east Nigeria. Her grandfather, Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu was Nigeria’s first minister of defence and her father a civil engineer. Her mother is a descendant of the Ankali family, who were renowned farmers and textile giants. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) and a Master’s in International Affairs and Strategic Studies from the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna. Prior to acquiring her higher degrees, Buhari had earlier pursued a career in Beauty and Fashion.
Her NGO, Future Assured Initiative has also extended help to wives of soldiers killed by Boko Haram as well as to Internally Displaced Persons.
Quintessential banker : Creating wealth amidst stormy banking terrain
Banker of the Year ( Mr. Peter Amangbo )
By AMECHI OGBONNA
Group Managing Director and Chief Executive of Zenith Bank Plc., Mr. Peter Amangbo, is one of the nation’s most inspiring banking professionals that have largely turned the current economic challenges into a gold mine of opportunities for shareholders and the entire business community.
Despite taking oven the headship of Nigeria’s largest commercial bank in 2014, and at a time Africa’s largest economy was cascading into a severe recession, Amangbo’s ability to easily stabilize in the big shoes left for him by the founding fathers of the institution has set him apart as a go-getter, and one that can be trusted to handle very complex responsibilities at critical times in the economy.
As expected, this young debonair banker has never disappointed corporate Nigeria and as well as those who had appointed him to steer the ship of one of Africa’s largest financial institutions, demonstrating in the process that career success is often not a function of how old one is, but of the character, capacity and strength of his mind.
Amangbo’s outstanding career path as a banker can be said to be well horned, considering that despite holding a B. Eng. Degree (Electrical and Electronics Engineering) from University of Benin and an MBA from the University of Warwick, Coventry, in the United Kingdom, he is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA).
Prior to joining the banking industry, Amangbo worked as a consultant with PriceWaterhousecoopers, where he supervised various assignments in financial services, manufacturing and general commerce, accounting and management institutions that have done so much with the Nigerian economy.
It was therefore not surprising that these responsibilities, have prepared him adequately for his new role as the GMD/CEO in addition to the cognate experience and expertise he had gained in the last 25 years driving products, processes and customer service improvements as well as talent for building partnerships with key business decision-makers.
With over two decades of experience within the banking industry, cutting across Corporate Finance and Investment Banking; Business Development; Credit and Marketing; Financial Control and Strategic Planning as well as Operations, even those who doubted his abilities to fit into the big shoes left by his predecessors have since been convinced that his choice for the plum job was not an error after all.
This is because beyond improving on the numbers that he met on ground in 2014, the Zenith Bank boss has never failed in the last three years to deliver superior shareholder value, while also building a robust asset base and enlarging the bank’s network of branches within and outside the country.
Amangbo’s dexterity and performance on the job, in the few years following his assumption of duty as the helmsman at Zenith International Bank Plc have continued to earn him numerous recognitions from both Nigerians and overseas.
Having been convinced from the outset, of the stellar qualities he is made of, the board of the bank had promptly appointed him to the Zenith Bank board and its subsidiary companies in 2005 whilst he simultaneously served as a pioneer non-executive director of Zenith Bank UK.
This enigmatic banker of no mean repute has also demonstrated the rare ability to motivate, mentor and lead talented senior professionals and to direct cross-functional teams.
It is also worthy of note that even before emerging as the CEO of Zenith Bank, the 2017 The Sun Banker of the Year’s name featured very prominently on the list of a team that drove the strategic planning and successful execution for the re-positioning of Zenith International Bank as one of the best financial institutions in Nigeria and the entire African continent, which is a clear testimony that beyond his sparkling professional resume, Amangbo’s exemplary leadership qualities have continued to put him in the spotlight in wherever he finds himself.
He has equally deployed those unique skills to significantly improve the bank’s contributions and growth in the over 20 years of his involvement in the affairs of the organisation.
For instance, under his leadership, Zenith Bank’s unaudited nine months result for the period ended September 30, 2017, almost outperformed its 12 months record for the audited full year of 2016 at N152.55 billion as against N156.74 billion with profit after tax for the period at N129.235 billion in nine months compared to N129.65 billion in 12 months of 2016.
This excellent profit position came out from a gross earnings of N531 billion in nine months compared to N507 billion in the 12 months of audited results for 2016.
On the balance sheet side, Amangbo has also demonstrated an unrivaled ability to add more to the value of Zenith Bank assets, taking it beyond the N5 trillion mark within the few years he has served as its GMD even as he has continued to expand its domestic and international network, and creating jobs and enriching its shareholders in the process.
He has attended the Advanced Management Programme at INSEAD, France, and Wharton Graduate School of Business, USA.
During the accounting period under review Zenith Bank’s total assets grew to N5.131 trillion compared to N4.73 trillion in 12 months ended December 31, 2016.
The company’s share premium account also grew to N255.04 billion, with total shareholders fund now at N767.69 billion in 2017 as against N704.46 billion in the 12 months ended December 31, 2016.
Today, Zenith Bank has one of the least records of non-performing loans at just 4.2 per cent as against 3 per cent in the whole of 2016 even as its earnings per share attributable to equity holders stood at 411k.
Chicason, another word for success in business
Business Person of the Year ( Alexander Chika Okafor )
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”
When Edson Arantes do Nascimento, a.k.a Pelé, widely regarded as the greatest football player of all time made the above quote, he seemed to have Chief (Dr.) Alexander Chika Okafor, executive chairman and founder of Chicason Group of Companies in mind. That is true because in the turbulent and highly competitive world of business, Chief Okafor is a success story.
But his fortune definitely did not come easy.
In 1981 at an early age when he set out to float a private enterprise to help him achieve his dream of touching the lives of the less privileged, not many gave him a chance in the murky waters of the business world but he came, saw and conquered.
Today the Chicason Group is not only like an octopus with many tentacles but it has become an inspiration to young and aspiring entrepreneurs. It has become one of Africa’s fastest growing conglomerates with more than 13 companies and affiliated businesses.
Born in Umudim, in Nnewi Local Government of Anambra State, Okafor who started from a humble background, has transformed into being one of the foremost industrialists in Nigeria. The hallmark of his success is hard work and partnership with various stakeholders with the aim of not only industrialising Nigeria but creating jobs for the citizens, while also putting smiles on the faces of the less privileged.
The group under him has built a reputation of integrity, industry, and commitment to Nigeria’s industrial revolution.
Okafor’s investment portfolio in the Oil and Gas sector is prominent in the A-Z Product Limited incorporated in 1994 but now trading in two operational arms, including A-Z (Manufacturing) and A-Z(Trading).
The business mogul is also into mining and the group’s activities are run under Resource Improvement and Manufacturing Company Limited, (RIMCO), made up of two divisions: the Manufacturing Division, which produces vegetable oils, animal feeds and bleaching earth, and the Mining Division. There is also the Chicason-Mannyon Specialist Hospitals Ltd, which is a leading integrated healthcare delivery service provider in Nigeria.
On account of his relentless pursuit of excellence, Okafor has been honoured by the Federal Government with the award of the Officer of the Order of Niger (OON) among other recognitions by several professional bodies. It is for being a success story and providing livelihood to thousands of Nigerians that Okafor was voted Business Personality of the Year 2017.
Public service Award of the year
Patriotic public officer waging war against poverty ( Mr. Godwin Emefiele )
By AMECHI OGBONNA
mr. Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is a central banker whose policies and action are largely driven by altruistic and nationalistic passion to further strengthen the Federal Government’s economic diversification agenda. His love for country and humanity has taken implementing policies and programmes that are clearly targeted at eradicating poverty especially at the base Nigeria’s economic pyramid where majority of the economically active population are concentrated.
This perhaps has been the driving force behind his desire to build an economy that works and can provide jobs for its citizens leveraging on its abundant resources and impressive financial buffers to restore its pride in the comity of nations.
It was indeed to Emefiele’s credit that most of the Federal Government’s economic intervention programmes are working to restore the economy to self sufficiency in the production of some staple crops such as rice, that has taken a huge chunk of Nigeria’s wealth over the years.
Today for instance, the narratives of the country’s over dependence on imported rice is fast changing as total import of rice from Thailand has dropped sharply from over 640,000metric tonnes per annum to about 21,000 metric tonnes this year as the country heads to rice self sufficiency.
Emefiele’s pet project, The Anchor Borrowers Scheme now drawing a critical mass of small holder farmers across over 16 states of the federation is gradually launching the country into an economy that is self sufficient in rice thereby saving the country huge amount in foreign exchange.
Beside the rice programme, Emefiele has helped thousands of SMEs in various sectors of the economy to rediscover themselves through his intervention programmes.
Before joining Zenith at its inception in the early 1990s, Emefiele had prepared himself adequately for the role that fate entrusted to him later in life, having armed himself with degrees in Banking and Finance from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, with which he also lectured in Finance and Insurance in two Nigerian universities. He is also an alumnus of Stanford University, Harvard and Wharton Graduate School of Business where he took courses in Negotiation, Service Excellence, Critical Thinking, Leading Change, and Strategy.
A silent achiever who would prefer that his records speak for him, Emefiele who spent over 26 years in commercial banking, came into his central banker role at a time the industry and the Nigerian economy were in dire need of strategic thinkers who would remedy the pains inflicted on them by the shocks in the global economy.
Even though he was not among those lobbying to be made governor of the apex bank, his achievements in Zenith Bank easily made him the best man for the job.
Before his appointment as Group Managing Director at Zenith Bank, Emefiele was its Executive Director in charge of Corporate Banking, Treasury, Financial Control and Strategic Planning. His outstanding performance in those strategic divisions nudged him higher to become Deputy Managing Director in 2001.
He continued in that position on August 1, 2010, when the lot fell on him to steer the ship of one of Nigeria’s largest and most profitable banks with over 7,000 staff, about US$3.2 billion in shareholders’ funds, and with subsidiaries in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia, South Africa, China, and the United Kingdom, as its managing director.
It is on record that under Emefiele’s leadership, Zenith Bank strengthened its position as a leading financial institution in Africa, winning recognitions and endorsements at home and overseas for its giant strides in key performance areas like corporate governance, service delivery and deployment of cutting-edge ICT.
Since being appointed Governor of the CBN in June 2014, Mr. Emefiele has vigorously pursued his vision of financial system stability and development financing in view of his strong belief that central banks in developing countries cannot afford to sit idly by and concentrate only on price and monetary stability, in the face of the enormous developmental challenges.
From the time he took over as the boss of Nigeria’s apex bank, Godwin has tackled the effects of the significant drop in commodity prices, the end of the US Fed’s Quantitative Easing and the unwinding of unconventional monetary policies by the United States Federal Reserve and other major Central Banks around the world.
He also supported the Federal Government’s battle against the outbreak of the Ebola Crisis in West Africa, as well as numerous other unforeseen challenges.
He is currently leading Monetary Policy efforts to deal with the spillovers from the sharp drop in commodity prices in the Nigerian economy and the effect of the recent vote by the United Kingdom to exit the European Union.
In recent times, Governor Emefiele has also backed up his pledge to assist with job creation with the establishment of the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, a scheme that has been largely responsible for the significant rice production output across the country. This programme is also anchored on Governor Emefiele’s belief that the welfare of ordinary Nigerians must be a key anchor of Monetary Policies and Central Banking.
In recognition of his contributions to banking and the Nigerian economy, Mr. Emefiele has received several awards from renowned institutions and organisations within and outside the country including, The 2017 Forbes Best of Africa Innovative Banking Award; Vanguard Personality of the Year Award, 2017; Zik Award for Professional Leadership, 2017; and the Institute for Service Excellence and Good Governance (ISEGG) Award for service excellence and good governance, 2016, among others.
Governor Emefiele is married with children.
Quintessential Public Servant ( MR. NSIMA UDO EKERE )
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and winner of The Sun Public Service Award 2017, Mr. Nsima Udo Ekere, is a quintessential public servant considering his pedigree in the private/public sectors. Since his assumption of office last year, Ekere has taken far-reaching decisions that are beneficial to the administration of the Commission.
He has made meaningful impact in the development of the Niger Delta region with his vision of returning the commission to its core mandate of executing “more of regional and bigger projects that will ultimately impact on the socioeconomic life and development of the entire region.” Nsima came to the commission with varied experiences in both private and public sectors. Apart from having worked as an estate valuer and estate development consultant, Ekere has run an indigenous anti-corrosion, environmental, fabrication/maintenance engineering company as well as being the chairman of AKIIPOC, the investments and industrial promotions’ arm of the Akwa Ibom State Government.
He was also the Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State in Chief Godswill Akpabio’s administration. Besides, Ekere has served as the chairman of Ibom Power, the independent power generating company of Akwa Ibom State Government as well as being chairman of Akwa Ibom State Emergency Management Agency.
Born on May 29, 1965, Ekere, a native of Ikot Oboroenyin, Edemaya Clan of Ikot Abasi Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, attended Regina Coeli College, Essene, Ikot Abasi and later Mary Knoll College, Ogoja, Cross River State. He was briefly at The Polytechnic, Calabar; 1981-1982. He graduated from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, with a B.Sc Honours Degree in Estate Management in 1986.
Ekere was the principal partner of Ekere and Associates, a firm of estate valuers and real estate development consultants with offices in Port Harcourt and other cities. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (FNIVS), and Registered Member, Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registrati Read Full Story