March 10, 2017

All roads lead to Lagos as Vanguard honours Frontliners tomorrow

By Clifford Ndujihe

LAGOS — THE stage is set. All roads, will tomorrow, lead  to the Convention Centre, Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, where Nigeria’s best read newspaper and online supremo, Vanguard, will honour 14 deserving Nigerians, who are unarguably, frontliners in their various fields of human endeavour.

A host of eminent Nigerians are expected at the 2016 Vanguard Personality of the year awards, which are in five categories: Businessman of the year, Personality of the year, Banker of the year, Governors of the year and Lifetime Achievers.

Businessman of the year

One of Nigeria’s biggest individual employers of labour, Capt Hosa Okunbo, will cart away the businessman of the year award. Indeed,  in March 2016,  in a move that is in alignment with government’s bid to diversify the nation’s economy, Okunbo packaged a N150 billion ($750 million) agro-enterprise, named Wells Sam Carlos Farm, a 9,000-hectare concern, in Edo, his home state.

The farm will provide 25,000 direct jobs and 60,000 indirect jobs. This is besides a 20-hectare greenhouse (by the Benin by-pass) also in Edo, calibrated to produce 600 tonnes of vegetables monthly.

Between the agro-enterprises and the companies he owns, Captain Hosa, as he is fondly called, is responsible directly for the employment of no fewer than 30,000 Nigerians. If his interests in other companies are factored in, Captain Hosa’s businesses have brought no less than 100,000 jobs in the last 30 years.

Banker of the year

Also, for unfurling a five-year plan that has made Access Bank, under Mr Herbert Wigwe (its Group Managing Director/CEO), to achieve stellar results amid debilitating macroeconomic tide and its spillover effects on the banking industry and outperformed its peers in most performance indicators, Wigwe will receive the Banker of the year trophy.

Personality of the year

Having 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, given the enormity of their development challenges, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, will be going home with the Personality of the year laurel.

In 2015, when he was barely one year in office with the avalanche of challenges he inherited, a change of government was added to the basket of what he had to deal with, at a time when all other external sector challenges were escalating.

It was against these inclement circumstances that Emefiele began to walk a tight rope of leading monetary policy efforts to deal with the spillovers. The new government had taken a very long time to settle down into fiscal policy complement of the monetary policy efforts, thereby forcing Emefiele to walk a difficult and lonely economic management path.

Consequently, results of his efforts at the end of the fiscal year 2015 were obviously muted, signalling a more challenging 2016. By mid 2016, the economy had slid into recession, inflation had escalated, capital flight had heightened, foreign reserves had declined further, while the Naira had depreciated across all market segments.

It is noteworthy that Emefiele kept his eye on the ball despite these huge distractions, which came with castigations and even threats to his personal integrity.

Governors of the year

For keeping the economies of their states afloat in spite of the billowing winds of recession in the country, making giant strides in agriculture and provision of infrastructure, Governors Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi), Willie Obiano (Anambra), Ben Ayade (Cross River) and Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos) will be proud and unassailable recipients of the Governors of the year awards.

Lifetime awards

For the Lifetime awards, the laurels will go to peaceful war general, apostle of ‘go on with one Nigeria’ and former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd); world acclaimed diplomat and former Sceretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; and Business czar, founder of Diamond Bank Plc and Chairman of MTN Nigeria, Dr. Paschal Dozie.

The other lifetime-achievers are elder stateman and national leader of the Ijaw Nation, Chief Edwin Clark; emeritus Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okogie; Administration, business and political  juggernaut, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; and  business tycoon, media patron, distinguished administrator and accomplished statesman, Alhaji Isa Funtua.