By Mike Ebonugwo, Olasunkanmi Akoni and Elizabeth Uwandu
Eko Hotel and Suites on a Friday is usually a popular destination for fun seekers. But as the venue of the Vanguard Personality of the Year Awards 2018 which held yesterday, it was certainly a dream place to be for entertainment enthusiasts.
Little wonder it witnessed an unusual human and vehicular traffic that kept the place abuzz all night. Indeed the guests started arriving as early as 3pm for an event slated to start by 5pm. By 4pm the trickling of early arrivals had turned into a milling throng that surged up the red carpet, heading for the entrance into the hall.
Most of the guests came dressed to the nines, using the opportunity to make a fashion statement of their attires. In fact, some of them took time before entering the hall to capture the moment by posing for photographs.
Even those clad in skimpy tight-fitting outfits were not left out. They also took their turns, strutting and prancing around the red carpet to show off their seductive figures, leaving some men either staring in shock or ogling unashamedly.
Most of the awardees arrived accompanied by a retinue of aides, supporters and hero-worshippers; some with praise singers and even troupe of dancers singing and gyrating to the accompaniment of drums and other musical instruments.
Particularly noticeable was the Erelu Oba Royal Group from the Palace of the Oba of Lagos who welcomed and entertained guests with their melodius drummings.
The arrival of Itshekiri and indeed Niger Delta leader and activist, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor created an excitement of its own. She was accompanied by gorgeously dressed Eregwa Itshekiri Ladies who sang and danced to her praise and honour.
Security personnel and bouncers engaged for the occasion had a hectic time controlling the surging crowd of guests, both the invited and the uninvited who thought it was an opportunity to stop by and catch some fun, especially when they heard of the big names in the entertainment industry engaged to perform that night. And soon, the hall was packed to the brim.
And while the guests waited patiently for the event to commence formally, they were entertained by a succession of popular musical tunes by a band which goes by the name of Laelu Gbenjo and Plessent Sound. But one thing is for sure, there was no dull moment for all present while the event lasted as they were seduced and enthralled by the entertaining variety of all the show had to offer in one night. Indeed it was an event that sizzled with hilarious scenarios laced with an odd mix of music, fashion, including the garish variety; speeches and other forms of side attractions.
The pair of Zainab Balogun and popular stand up comedian, Bovi who served as the masters of ceremony obviously knew their onions as they were on top of the game. Like seasoned choir masters, they kept everything moving according to the programme of events in spite of a few distractions here and there.
As for the jokes, they were certainly in no short supply. Indeed Bovi was in his elements as he did not hesitate to release so much from his armoury of rib-cracking jokes that most people laughed so much that they probably left the venue with sore ribs.
His sharp, witty repartees and slap-stick exchanges with his co-MC also elicited of laughter and chuckles.
The jokes were not the only dramatic relief to the awards ceremony with its attendant speeches. There were highly entertaining musical interludes. One of key performers in this regard was the Babane Performing Troupe led by Muyiwa Oshonaike. The had performed in quick succession an entertaining blend of cultural dance, acrobatic and choreographic displays.
Also performing was a solo musical artist with the name, YK who rendered songs to the accompaniment of his guitar.
Soon it was the turn of one of the fans musical favourites in Nigeria today, Adekunle Gold. As usual the gathering could not get enough of his unique brand of African pop music with a rich fusion of high life and Yoruba culture. They enthusiastically applauded his effort at the end of it all.
But the climax was yet to come. And there was no mistaking it when it came given the
palpable excitement that rippled through the gathering with the introduction and arrival on stage of Innocent Idibia aka Tuface or Tubaba as he now prefers to be addressed. His arrival on stage was greeted with a loud applause as many sprang to their feet whooping deliriously even before he started singing.
And he certainly did not disappoint when he took the stage. It was vintage Tubaba as his performance typically elicited rapturous reactions, defined by sustained applause.