By Ikeddy ISIGUZO,
Chairman Editorial Board
In the midst of the daunting challenges Nigeria faces, it is easy to overlook the changes that are running through the country in different ways, and from different change agents, whose missions have been to make things better.
Those Vanguard is honouring today, dared to be different in a country where many have given up hope that things could be better. At a time of common performances, they distinguished themselves by surrounding themselves with an uncommonness that became sources of improvements in the lives of people.
- If we start from business, where Tony Elumelu took excellence to parts that people never imagined, his innovative Africapitalism, promotion of youth entrepreneurship as a continental venture and his increasing attention to philanthropy, are areas that drew our Editors’ interests to a man whose commitment to improving businesses, creating opportunities for others would improve their world and ultimately create a better society.
In the 16th year of Nigeria’s second return to civil rule, our Editors decided to nominate for awards, five governors who have in the past eight years excelled. Four of the awardees – Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Babatunde Raji Fashola (Lagos), Liyel Imoke (Cross River) and Sule Lamido (Jigawa) ran two straight terms from 2007. Mohammed Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), the fifth awardee, was different. He was governor from 1999-2003. After losing his second term bid, he returned in 2011 to unleash a performance that put him in this celebrated company.
- Akpabio is recognised for the uncommon transformation that has taken place in Akwa Ibom State. Even those opposed to him agree that his vast improvements of the State with infrastructure are astounding. He would be leaving the State better than he met it.
- Fashola led the execution of projects that gave Lagos a new face and a new phase, increasing the State’s ratings as a business capital. Perhaps, the biggest approval of his performance is the belated acceptance of his predecessor Bola Ahmed Tinubu that Fashola had done better than him.
- Imoke navigated the sudden change in the status of Cross River to an almost non-oil producing State. He creatively managed the State’s dwindling resources, and sustained its image as a tourism destination through new initiatives and infrastructure that have served the State well.
- Lamido brought Jigawa back from the brink through massive developments across the State, even in rural areas that saw governments from a distance.
The change of Dutse from a provincial town to a befitting state capital was another undertaking under his care that made a difference.
- Kwankwaso, in addition to improved infrastructure in Kano State, brought life to transparency in the conduct of government business. His consistent publication of government financial transactions gave the public a chance to interrogate his government’s use of public resources.
Where do all these lead? They align with our motto, “Towards a better life for the people”. We congratulate our awardees, and all those who created a better life for the people in 2014. You deserve an award, whether you made it to the podium tonight or not.