By Clifford Ndujihe
NO doubt Nigeria is replete with men and women who have made their marks in their various fields of endeavour. However, picking a few out of this multitude for recognition is an arduous task and passing the crucible of being nominated as a Vanguard Newspapers’ award winner is not a tea party. This is one of the reasons many high profile Nigerians are yet to win the award.
For over four months, in 20 meetings of at least two hours per sitting, the Vanguard Board of Editors engaged in the brain-racking, energy-sapping and painstaking task of selecting nominees for the 2018 personality of the year awards. The awards are part of Vanguard’s policy of promoting activities that will lead to a better life for the people.
To nominate a person for an award, an editor must be ready for a barrage of questions concerning the nominee’s profile, integrity, accomplishments, impact of the accomplishments on the polity and why the nominee is better than other nominees. After this rigorous process, Vanguard is presenting 17 Nigerians, who have etched their footprints on the sands of time. The awards are in six categories – Personality of the year, Business man of the year, Governors of the year, Banker of the year, Lifetime achievement, and Humanitarian service.
Personality of the year
For leading the largest African philanthropic initiative devoted to entrepreneurship, Mr. Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu, an economist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp, and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, TEF, is Vanguard’s personality of the year.
His large footprints across key sectors of the Nigerian economy, from Banking and Finance to Real Estate, Oil and Gas, attest to his entrepreneurial dexterity and knack for business excellence. Indeed, his philanthropic activities are becoming the stuff for legends.
His origination of the Africapitalism concept, driven through The Tony Elumelu Foundation, is changing lives and creating businesses not only in Nigeria but also across the continent of Africa. The concept is an economic philosophy that embodies the private sector’s commitment to the economic transformation of Africa through long-term investments that create both economic prosperity and social wealth.
In a large measure, the TEF has gone a long way in actualizing its stated objective of “proving that the African private sector can itself be the primary generator of economic development” the mission of “driving Africa’s economic development by enhancing the competitiveness of the African private sector.” It is noteworthy that to date, TEF has funded no less than 4,460 entrepreneurs with an investment of about N9.6 billion ($25 million).
Governors of the year
Among the 36 states of the country, six governors stood out in their populist programmes that deepened the delivery of democracy dividends in their states hence their nomination as governors of the year 2018. They are Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara; Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Enugu; Rt. Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, Sokoto; Deacon Udom Emmanuel, Akwa Ibom; Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta; and Senator Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo.
Governor Abdulfatah’s exceptional impact in paying attention to the plight of children in Kwara stands out, such that the Federal Government has now adopted what is now to be implemented nationally as the Every Child Counts Project. Particularly noteworthy is his achievements in the area of opening up the state, such that more than 300 kilometres of roads and other projects he initiated have been completed.
These and other achievements in the area of Housing, Agriculture, Healthcare, Education and others stand him out as a silent achiever deserving of recognition.
Governor Udom Emmanuel’s enviable objective of ‘’keeping Akwa Ibom in peace and prosperity” has been kept afloat through massive
investments in agriculture, healthcare, education and infrastructure. His boosting food sufficiency, providing quality education, and quality healthcare programmes arereference points. Apart from renovating and re-equipping the Ikono, Etinan, and Ituk-Mbang general hospitals, in les than four years, Udom Emmanuel ensured the delivery of over 25 containers of medical equipment to healthcare facilities that provide free medical services to children below five years, pregnant women and the elderly.
Governor Udom has ensured free and compulsory basic education in public schools, he took over 17 community secondary schools, constructed and renovated 400 school blocks and paid N600 million WAEC and NABTEB fees of Akwa Ibom indigenes in public secondary schools annually.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, dubbed the “infrastructure governor” through prudent generation and management of resources has made Enugu one of the emerging viable states of Nigeria in terms of internally generated revenue, IGR. Following reforms he introduced, Enugu State’s IGR rose to N22 billion in 2017, the highest in a single year since 1999 and thereby making Enugu one of the 12 states in Nigeria that can survive without federal allocation.
Ugwuanyi’s infrastructural interventions cut across education, healthcare (received a boost with the construction of district hospitals and training of 400 volunteer workers for health intervention programmes in rural communities), boosting industrialization, and housing among others of which so far, his Administration has spent over N45 billion on construction and rehabilitation of roads across all parts of the state, covering about 300 kilometres
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, known as the “smart governor” has also established himself as the human capital development governor through his SMART – Strategic wealth creation projects and provision of jobs for all Deltans, Meaningful peace building platforms aimed at political and social stability,
Agricultural reforms and accelerated industrialization, Relevant health and education policies, and Transformed environment through urban renewal, agenda. Okowa is being honoured for dutifully implementing broad-based programmes to actualize the five-point SMART agenda.
Apart from completing and making the Stephen Kechi Stadium functional, Okowa has completed over 70 road projects with a length of 320 kilometres; acquired 3,850 hectares of farmland and encouraged the establishment of rice processing mills to support rice cultivation; embarked on 193 projects across the state which are completed or ongoing.
His human capital development programme that has transformed no fewer than 40,000 unemployed youths into owners of businesses and employers of labour is exemplary. Under him, Delta became the first state in the federation to launch the Universal Health Coverage, UHC. As of September 30, 2018, the total number of enrolees stood at 316,301.
Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has established himself as an education governor having consistently allocated more than 27 per cent of Sokoto State budget to the Education sector since he assumed the saddle of leadership in 2015. For instance, in 2016 budget, education got N34.5billion, the highest budgetary allocation of 29 per cent; and in 2017 budget, education maintained the top position with N38.4 billion allocation, which was 27.3 percent of the total budget outlay. He did not stop there.
Sokoto became the first state in Nigeria to introduce the ‘Right to Education’ bill, which provides for free and compulsory education, to be paid for by public coffers, for all children between ages six and 18, and criminalises refusal to send children to school, and parents will be liable to criminal prosecution if they stop their children from attending school.
Tambuwal wiped the shame of the people of Gudu LGA by building a secondary school in the council and taking it off the derogatory map of the only council without a secondary school in Nigeria.
He also renovated 1500 primary schools, 180 junior secondary schools and 200 senior secondary schools among others.
Governor Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi, did become the first man to break the re-election jinx in Oyo State stands out for his unfurling ofinfrastructural revolution in the state.
So far, he has constructed and rehabilitated more than 200 roads and bridges across the 33 local councils of the state. Some of them include: Restoration Bridge (Awolowo/Bodija/Secretariat Bridge), construction of Flyover Bridge at Mokola, Ibadan, construction of motor garage at
Temidire on Ibadan-Ife Road and Podo; construction of 110 kilometre Ibadan Circular Road. dualising two major roads in Ibadan, that is, the Ibadan Interchange-Challenge-New Garage-Interchange Road and Onireke-Jericho-Eleiyele- Dugbe Road with spurs to Aleshinloye as well as entry roads to Oyo, Ogbomoso and Iseyin.
These are aside the Ijokodo to Apete and associated bridge works; Ikoyi Express Junction to Taki Palace to Ogbomoso Grammar School roads. His numerous accomplishments in the education sector include establishment of a Technical University (Tech-U), Ibadan, Oyo State, the first of its kind in the Southwestern region.
Business man of the year
In acknowledgement of his immense contribution to oil and gas development in Africa through visionary leadership, service and transformational realignment of a sector dominated by International oil companies, as well as improving on the lives of people and societies across the African continent, Mr. Benedict Peters, founder of Aiteo Group, emerged as Vanguard’s business man of the year.
Banker of the year
For steering Zenith Bank to distinguish itself in the banking industry through superior service quality, and unique customer experience among others, Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank PLC, Mr. Peter Amangbo, was nominated as the banker of the year.
At a time of sectarian violence and killings in many parts of the country especially in the North-Central and North-West geo-political zones, the efforts of Alhaji Abdullahi Abubakar, 83, the Imam of Nghar village, Gashish District, Barkin Ladi local council of Plateau State, cannot go unnoticed and unrewarded. For hiding and shielding no fewer than 300 Christians in a mosque and thus saving them from being slaughtered by their Moslem brothers, Vanguard is honouring Alhaji Abubakar with the 2018 humanitarian award.
Lifetime achievement awards
Eight elder statesmen and women were singled out for for lifetime achievement awards on account of their invaluable and unblemished contributions to the well-being of the society. They include: Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Erelu Abiola Dosunmu, Chief Rita , Mrs. Leila Fowler, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs, General Alani Akinrinade, retd; and Alhaji Abdul Ganiyu Folorunso Abdul-Razaq, SAN.
Alhaji Lateef Jakande, first civilian governor of Lagos State, who laid the framework for the development of Lagos, and embarked on unassailable mass housing programme that is yet to matched anywhere in the country almost 40 years after. In particular, most Nigerians remember his still unequalled achievement in the housing sector.
The famous Jakande estates, comprising more than 30,000 housing units at Amuwo-Odofin, Ijaiye, Dolphin, Oke-Afa, Ije, Abesan, Iponri, Ipaja, Abule Nla, Epe, Surulere, Iba, Ikorodu, and Badagry made many Lagosians proud home owners to this day.
He is one of the three surviving Class 1979 Governors (the others are Senator Jim Nwobodo and Alhaji Balarabe Musa) and the indelible footprints of his administration in Lagos are still there for all to see. He not only abolished the “morning and afternoon” system in Lagos schools, but also implemented the Free Education policy of the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN and built hundreds of new primary and secondary schools all over the state.
Creation of the Lagos State University, LASU, is further testimony of his desire to deliver quality education to residents of Lagos.
Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, a detribalised Nigerian, was at the forefront of the struggle to return Nigeria to democratic rule through the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, and has remained in the crusade to entrench and deepen democracy in the country.
Alhaji Abdul Ganiyu Folorunso Abdul-Razaq, OFR, SAN, nationalist, the first lawyer from Northern Nigeria, former President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, and former legal adviser of the Northern Peoples Congress, NPC, was one of those who fought for independence using his vast knowledge of the law as a weapon to end colonialism.
Chief Leila Euphemia Apinke Fowler, MFR, a lawyer, nurse, and educationalist, and the Yeye Mofin of Lagos, has played crucial roles in moulding many Nigerians through her educational institutions.
She established the Vivian Fowler Memorial College for Girls, whose mission is “to promote the advancement of women through quality and functional education.”
Driven by her passion for excellence through education, Chief Fowler went on to establish the Hallmark University, thereby implanting her vision at every level of education in Nigeria.
As such, the Fowler name has become synonymous with quality education in Nigeria. She is esteemed as an icon of qualitative education not only in the country but also beyond our shores.
High Chief Olu Benson Lulu Briggs, community leader, global business man, philanthropist, humanist, caring and dotting family
man and nationalist is still making his marks at 88 taking care of the elderly in the society.
Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, the Igba of Warri, industrialist, who started her career as a broadcast journalist, has helped in engendering better life in the country through her strong advocacies on matters of crucial national importance.
Lt. General Ipoola Alani Akinrinade, CFR, FSS, and former Chief of Army Staff, COAS, was one of those who fought for the civil war and has remained unwavering in his crusade to ensure Nigeria becomes a better country where equity and justice reign supreme.
Erelu Abiola Dosunmu, astute business woman, philanthropist, and owner multi-purpose club, the Atlantic Beach Club, Lagos was one of those who fought for the creation of Lagos State.
The grand-mother, who has been celebrating the traditional institution as Erelu for 44 years is a role model.
Rising on the social and business circles through dints of hard work, Erelu Dosunmu had a shop on Broad Street, Lagos as far back as 1968 and once had a shop at Mayfair District in the city of London.