By Emmanuel Aziken
Weeks of expectation heralding the annual Vanguard Awards climax today at the Convention Centre of the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos as Vanguard honours some of Nigeria’s leading lights in the professions, business, and government. Today’s event was yesterday heralded by the Vanguard Economic Discourse where some of Nigeria’s leading economic minds ventilated their views on the different slants towards resuscitating the economy.
Yesterday’s sombre and succinct scenery is expected to be replaced by a more convivial ambience as distinguished men and women from near and afar gather to watch the 14 men chosen by Vanguard’s Board of Editors to showcase the Nigerian spirit of resilience in the bygone year, 2016.
Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who has steered monetary policy in the midst of challenging economic parameters and the chaotic fiscal environment wins Vanguard’s Personality of the Year, 2016. Mr. Emefiele’s choice by Vanguard editors was despite the recession whose origins predated his appointment and was boosted by his steady and robust response to a seemingly impossible situation.
Mr. Herbert Wigwe is Banker of the Year, 2016. Mr. Wigwe who stepped in as CEO/Group Managing Director of Access Bank in 2014 has brought skill and style to position Access Bank among Nigeria’s top five banks with a competitive advantage in technology and customer relations.
Capt. Hosa Okunbo, pilot, businessman, philanthropist and culture icon is the choice of Vanguard editors for Businessman of the Year, 2016. With investments in energy, agriculture, telecommunications, petroleum, real estate, aviation and several others, Okunbo, a trained pilot has through scanning of the business atmosphere, been able to position himself to survive the vicissitudes that ordinarily consume light-hearted investors.
Four governors — Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos; Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State; Willie Obiano of Anambra and Ben Ayade of Cross River, won plaudits from Vanguard editors for Governor of the Year, 2016 award.
Governor Ambode’s sturdy and steady strides towards the transformation of Lagos as showcased by ongoing urban renewal projects across the state, an unpretentious personality that evokes a connection with the ordinary man were among the virtues that delighted Vanguard editors in his selection as Governor of the Year, 2016.
Governor Bagudu is not the first governor of Kebbi State, but he is unarguably the first to have shown to all how grit and grasp of governance can be translated into profit for the governed. The uncommon alliance with his Lagos State counterpart, Governor Ambode which brought forth LAKE Rice, despite the challenging geographical distance has shown to all how governors with foresight and fortitude can positively project their states. For his efforts in making a difference, Governor Bagudu wins Vanguard’s Governor of the Year, 2016 award.
Given the state of political anarchy that was the permanent feature of Anambra State and the change that occurred just before Governor Willie Obiano took over, much was expected from the former banker turned governor. Governor Obiano has indeed not disappointed building a legacy of peace that has provided a suitable environment for investments. Even more, Governor Obiano has helped project Anambra State beyond the realms of commerce and industry towards a whole new realm as an agricultural hub.
For his instinctive crave towards lifting Anambra State above where he met it, Governor Obiano wins Vanguard’s Governor of the Year, 2016 award.
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has been a disappointment to those sceptical of the potentials of academics in the political terrain. He has done so by so successfully turning theory into practise not just in efficiency in government, but by sowing new grounds in a state that was until his coming generally acclaimed as the poorest in the South-South. He has through vision planted industries including the famed Calabar Garment Factory, ensured an enchanting investment environment and inspired arguably the most motivated civil service in the country. For his persistent passion to transform Cross River State, Prof. Ayade wins Vanguard’s Governor of the Year, 2016 award.
Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Dr. Pascal Dozie, Chief Edwin Clark, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Alhaji Isa Funtua and Chief Emeka Anyaoku are individual winners of the Lifetime Achievement Awards.
They are men who have over a period of time endeared themselves to the generality of Nigerians for the positive contributions they brought to bear in the life of our growing nation. They are men who have shone like stars in their various callings, men who through character overcame challenges that made their contemporaries passersby in the path of life.
On the pages that follow this, read more about the strides and stands of these uncommon men, whose uncommon attainments mak them deserving of our laurels.
Tonight’s awards will be serenaded with acts, expectedly from some of Nigeria’s top performers.