By Emmanuel Aziken, Dapo Akinferon, Charles Kumolu and Gbenga Oke
The ceremony, held amid glitz and glamour, saw awards to some of the country’s leading personalities in government and business. Eight persons received Lifetime Achievement Awards, five governors received awards of Governor of the Year and two awards were given in business.
The awardees were Personality of the Year, Mrs Aisha Buhari, and Governors of the Year, Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia; Seriake Dickson, Bayelsa; Darius Ishaku, Taraba; Mohammed Abubakar, Bauchi and Umar Ganduje, Kano.
The Lifetime Achievement Awards went to General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Professor Grace Alele-Williams, Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, Chief Sunday Adegeye, aka Sunny Ade, Chief Michael Ade-Ojo and Dr. Oba Otudeko.
The Businessman of the Year Award went to Muhammadu Indimi while Banker of the Year was received by Emeka Emuwa
The ceremony was flagged off with a welcome address by Vanguard General Manager/Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye, who intoned that the Awards had become a signpost for the recognition of men and women.
Following him, the Chairman of the occasion, Senator Ike Nwachukwu, praised the inspiration of the awards even as he noted his working relations with Vanguard publisher, Mr. Sam Amuka. The former army general told the audience of his working experience as a journalist before his army career.
The first award, which was Banker of the Year, was presented by Dr. Mrs. Nike Akande, a former minister, to Mr. Emeka Emuwa, Group Managing Director of Union Bank, a veteran of Citi Bank group who became the first Nigerian to be appointed as Managing Director of the Nigeria affiliate of Citi Bank.
He was recognised as Banker of the Year, 2017 for his exceptional role in reviving the fortunes of Union Bank. In presenting the award, Akande, who noted that she was until last December a Director of Union Bank, equally lauded the Vanguard choice, saying Emuwa deserved the award.
The Businessman of the Year, 2017 was awarded to Dr. Muhammadu Indimi, Managing Director of Oriental Energy Services. The award was received on his behalf by Dr. Amina Ndimi, a senior Executive Director of Oriental Energy Services and presented by Akande.
The first of the Lifetime Achievement Awards was presented to Prof. (Mrs.) Grace Alele-Williams, a mathematics professor who was the first female vice-chancellor of a university in Africa. She was hailed as an accidental feminist who broke several grounds in an illustrious academic career including stamping out cultism in the University of Benin. The award was presented to her by the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Edward Adamu.
The second Lifetime achievement award went to General Abdulsalami Abubakar, a former military Head of State. The award was received on his behalf by Mr. Abu Ibrahim.
The third Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, a former Chief of General Staff who, following his retirement from the military, went on to the business arena. The award was presented to him by the duo of General Nwachukwu and Mr. Amuka.
The fourth Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Oba Otudeko, one of Nigeria’s leading boardroom players. The award was presented to him by the pair of General Nwachukwu and Mr. Amuka.
The fifth Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Chief Sunday Adegeye, the first African to be nominated for a Grammy Award. The award was received on his behalf by Barrister Ajibola.
The sixth Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Chief Ade-Ojo, automobile entrepreneur, for his role in spearheading the revival of the country’s automobile industry. The award was presented to him by Prof. Anya O. Anya.
The seventh Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas, four-time minister, elder-statesman who had an illustrious career in the oil sector before carving a niche in business. The award was presented to him by Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, Managing Director of Fidelity Bank plc.
The Vanguard Personality of the Year Award was presented to Hajiya Aisha Buhari, the First Lady. The award was received on her behalf by her daughter, Halima Buhari and was presented by the duo of Nwachukwu and Amuka.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State was recognised as Vanguard Governor of the Year, 2017 for his infrastructural achievements that have, among others, led to the transformation of Aba, the industrial heartland of the South-East.
Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State was recognised as Governor of the Year, 2017 for using the least of available resources to project the state into one of the fastest developing states in the country.