Nineteen eminent Nigerians are being honoured in 14 categories of the awards hosted every year since 2004 by The Sun Publishing Ltd, publishers of The Sun titles, to recognise and promote excellence, innovation and courage.
Leading the pack from the private sector are: Chairman, Eleganza Industrial City, Chief Razaq Akanni Okoya; Chairman, Orange Group, Chief Tony Ezenna, Founder/CEO, Emzor Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Dr. Stella Chiyenlu Okoli; Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc. Mr. Herbert Wigwe; President/CEO, Coscharis Group, Dr. Cosmas Maduka; President Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chief Nike Akande and Chairman, Avalon Intercontinental Ltd, Alhaji Tajudeen Owoyemi.
A host of celebrities from the Nollywood and entertainment industry notably Ms. Rita Dominic, Phyno Azubuike Nelson and Olamide Adedeji (aka Olamide) will be adding glitz and glamour to the ceremony taking place at the Expo Centre of the Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island.
Also to grace the occasion are Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Prof Anya O. Anya, who will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Apart from those listed above, who, save for Anyaoku, are all recipients, the awards ceremony is also expected to draw their friends, family members, colleagues and associates to the exquisite venue that sits nestling against the breezy Marina and the Atlantic Ocean.
They will be received by the Chairman of The Sun Publishing Ltd, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, and the Managing Director of the newspaper company, Mr. Eric Osagie.
While it lasts and even before and after, the awards ceremony is expected to significantly alter the social, political and economic faces of Lagos, as it had done with previous editions.
For one, the presence of the invited guests and political heavyweights from across different parts of the country, many of whom have confirmed their intention to attend the ceremony, is expected to rev up socio-economic activities on the Island.
The city’s economy is also certain to gain in terms of business patronage with the high calibre of dignitaries who started pouring in yesterday and are not expected to leave until at least tomorrow. Already, Saturday Sun learnt that Eko Hotels and many others in Victoria Island, Lekki, and environs had witnessed tremendous increase in bookings by midweek.
Popular comedian, Gbenga Adeyinka the 1st, will compere the event and entertain guests with rib crackers as he has done these past few years, while music will be supplied by Veentage Band.
Music star,s Phyno and Olamide are also billed to thrill the audience with special musical performances.
Already, this year’s edition of the annual media extravaganza has generated excitement among both the awardees and invitees. Senate Minority Leader and former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio; ex- governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi and Chairman GOCUZ Group Ltd, Dr. Obinna Uzoh; Prof Anya; Chief Okoya; Chief Akande; Dr. Kalu and Dr. Maduka, were among the latest to confirm their attendance.
An elated Governor Amosun, who bags The Sun Man of the Year Award, the flagship of the awards thanked The Sun management for the honour, which, he said, humbled him. “It challenges me, and the award is for the good people of Ogun State and the team working with me to give dividends of democracy to our people.”
Rivers State governor, Wike, said The Sun Governor of the Year Award would spur him to do more for the people of the state to whom he dedicated the honour. He promised not to disappoint The Sun for the choice it had made.
Masari, who receives the Courage in Leadership Award, said although he had always been apathetic to awards, he had accepted The Sun’s, because it was unique and one of integrity given the set criteria for the choice.
Speaking in a similar vein, Speaker Dogara described the awards as the most prestigious in the country. His words: “When I heard I had been awarded The Sun Political Icon of the Year, I was surprised in view of the gladiators and icons in the field… so the news was amazing to me mainly because I didn’t know the criteria for the award, until you reeled them across to me now.
“But I must admit that this is one of the very prestigious awards available here in Nigeria and I must thank you for the fact that your newspaper realizes that the work of journalism is not just to criticize, but also to recognize those who are contributing to the development of the country at great expense and to identify them for recognition or awards.” He has been nominated for the Political Icon of the Year Award.
The Banker of the Year Award nominee, Mr. Wigwe, described the award as a rare privilege that had also invariably thrust huge responsibility on him to ensure his conduct as a banking executive is guided by high professionalism and integrity.
Chief Akande, who bags a Lifetime Achievements Award commended the professionalism with which The Sun handled its awards, saying her nomination came as a pleasant surprise.
The LCCI boss and two-time Minister of Industry said she was on her way to work when she was bombarded with phone calls that she was on the front page of the newspaper as a recipient. The news made her day, she said when she eventually bought a copy of the paper. “I was so happy throughout that day, because it shows that all we have been doing are being appreciated. You are doing a good job at The Sun.
Continue in line of excellence which your paper and awards are known.”
Foremost industrialist, Chief Okoya who shares the Lifetime Awards with Akande said he would not miss the investiture ceremony, which, he described as one of the “biggest events in Nigeria today.”
Renowned economist, Dr. Kalu who will also receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, said: “This is great honour to me. Thank you for finding me worthy of the honour. It is a great pleasure to receive this honour.”
Another Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and eminent scholar, Prof Anya, spoke in similar vein. He said given the calibre of past awardees, he considered it a rare privilege to be honoured. “You don’t have to tell me it’s not for sale, because those who won it in the past make this clear. If it’s for sale, certain other types would have emerged”, he noted.