By Mike Ebonugwo and Benjamin Njoku
In keeping with the Vanguard brand’s exclusive tradition of excellence, the 10th Vanguard Personality of the Year Award 2021, with the theme: “Decade of Excellence”, expectedly live up to its billing in terms of quality attendance, near-flawlessly delivered motivating speeches, music, culture and other entertainment displays.
The event which held yesterday night at the prestigious Eko Hotels Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, was another remarkable celebration of some outstanding achievers who were on hand or ably represented to receive their well-deserved awards.
As usual, it was a night of glamour, glitz, glitter and highly exhilarating sounds. Indeed, apart from sessions of inspiring speeches that elicited instant applauses, those who were fortunate or privileged to be there got more than their fair bargain of several interludes of highly entertaining musical performances and jokes.
To underscore the popularity of the annual event, guests began arriving the Eko Hotels venue as early as 4pm even though it was slated to start at 5pm. For some of the early arrivals, especially the ladies and women, it was an opportunity to catwalk or strut the red carpet to show off their fashionable wears and take photographs as well. The arrival of more guests, especially the awardees and their entourages, soon sparked some palpable excitement within and outside the hall.
Some of the awardees and special guests arrived somewhat in style. Apart from being accompanied by their retinue of aides and supporters, they also had in tow praise singers and troupe of cultural dancers. A particular case in point is the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, a governor of the year-recipient, who was accompanied by members of the Edo State Arts Council. Clad in cultural attires embellished with beads, they sang and danced to the accompaniment of drums and other traditional musical instruments as they joyfully praised their governor. According to Mrs Tina Ilaide, the leader of the group: “We are here to rejoice and celebrate our governor for this Vanguard. He deserved the award and we thank Vanguard for honouring him today”.
As the guests rapidly filled the hall, they were entertained by the live band of Laolu Gbenjo group with a steady medley of tunes, both evergreen and modern. This was to be followed later by a curtain raiser musical performance by the group.
Popular stand-up comedian, Bovi and the elegant and silky-voiced Zainab Balogun, masters of ceremony at the occasion, took over at this stage and skilfully and masterfully steered the award ceremony to great aplomb. As expected, Bovi was at his comic best as he made rib-cracking jokes of sessions of the programme.
The music acts also lived up to their billings. Performances by the Laolu Gbenjo group certainly moved the audience as they applauded loudly after each music session. Their mixed-grill of evergreen hit songs certainly evoked nolstagic feelings of days gone by when their original composers and performers ruled the Nigerian musical entertainment roost. Young act, Kushie also wowed the mixed gathering many could not help but dance or sway to his musical performances. He performed three songs from his previous singles, including his newly released song “Ferewa” and “Roia” and “Durotimi”. He described performing at the Vanguard event as a great opportunity to showcase his talent to the world.
Undoubtedly Wande Coal provided the climax of the musical performances. It was indeed electrifying as he practically exploded on stage, instantly holding the audience spellbound. But as his performances unfolded members of the audience responded in kind by dancing enthusiastically to his music. He performed some of his evergreen songs such as “Allow me to kiss your hand”. He got everyone dancing when he performed “Rotate”, “Baby Hello” and his 2019 hit, “Bumper to Bumper”.