Ayodeji Ake writes on the just concluded Silverbird Man Award in Lagos
As a way of giving honour to whom honour is due, 13 years ago Silverbird Group designed an annual award event tagged ‘Silverbird Man Award’ to celebrate achievers in different spheres of life.
In the just concluded 2018 Silverbird Man Award held in Lagos, which recognised 21 dignitaries in 10 categories, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State emerged the winner of the prestigious Silverbird Man of the Year Award. The criteria for his nomination was based on his administration’s massive projects in Rivers State. The massive infrastructural development going on in Rivers State today, earned Wike the sobriquet ‘Mr. Projects’ in recognition of his many accomplishments since coming on board in May 2015.
Wike while delivering his remarks noted that he has been awarded not as a politician but as an achiever who has been committed to development since he has been into politics. Dedicating the award to his wife and the people of Rivers State, Wike appreciated his wife for her sacrifices and the people of Rivers for their cooporation towards achievements.
“I feel very honoured about this. Although I knew about my nomination but I was surprised when I heard I won. Since 1999, I have not only been in politics but occupied positions of public offices. As local government chairman, chief of staff, arm of the ministry of Federal Republic and now the governor of Rivers State. In all this positions, my commitment has been to promote and contribute to the development of my state and the nation. Today, I am much honoured to receive this award not because of this reputation but because of my interest in public service. With gratitude, I dedicate this award to the entire people of Rivers State who have also been committed to building a new Rivers State.
“I also dedicate this to my wife who in spite the fact that she loves her husband and want him around her all the time but can only see him two hours a day, she has really made sacrifices. I want to thank the Management of Silverbird Group for finding us worthy of this award, I want to assure that that by next year River State will still be awarded,” he said.
Other distinguished individuals recognised include, Deji Ali, Leo Stan Ekeh, Dr. Ola Orekunrin and Alahji Samad Rabiu, as the Silverbird Extra Ordinary Business Awardees. Lifetime Achievement Awards were bestowed on Chief Abba Folawiyo, Senator Daisy Danjuma, Lady Maiden Ibru and Stella Chinyelu. Silverbird Post Humous award were presented to Chief MKO Abiola, Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki. The Silverbird Extra Ordinary Personality Award was awarded to Ronald Chagoury.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele and Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Bagudu received the Silverbird Special Achievement Awards, while the Silverbird Education Award was given to the Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson. Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State as the Silverbird Man of the People. The Silverbird Legislative Awards were presented to Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Femi Gbajabiamila. The wife of the President, Aisha Buhari represented by former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Joke Orelope-Adefulire received the Silverbird Personality of the Year, while the Silverbird Public Servant Award went to Federal Internal Revenue Service (FIRS) boss, Babatunde Fowler.
Late Abiola’s daughter, Tundun Abiola who received the award on behalf of the Abiola family expressed her gratitude to Silverbird for remembering her father in death.
Tundun said: “My father chose a part of violence for the collective wealth of Nigeria. He had a great vision for Nigeria and he so much believed in transparency across all tiers of government. This democracy we are enjoying today, have been fought for by people who had inspired history and they bought democracy at high price. Every government since 1999 is a direct result of one man’s struggle. I want to appreciate Silverbird Group for this platform to appreciate our heroes.”
The Post Humous Award presented to late Ojukwu family was received by wife, Bianca Ojukwu who also expressed joy but noted the award would have been more interesting if Ojukwu himself was on the stage to receive his award. She said her joy was not that he was remembered but he had made impact on the nation when he was alive.
“I really appreciate Silverbird for putting this together to honour my late husband, if he has been here to receive this award, he would have had something humorous to say. He will always say that in Nigeria, he is always seen as a misunderstood individual but he said to me that in Nigeria you will become better understood when you are dead and harmless. He was a man of great perception, someone who saw things in advance of his time as the prevailing condition in Nigeria today,” she said.
Also expressing his joy, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele restated his commitment to growth of Nigeria. He said “we have been working very hard in spite of the challenges; we thank the Board and Management of Silverbird for recognising us. I’m assuring that with this, we will further more work harder to continue to deliver on our mandate for the growth of Nigeria as well as Nigerians.”
As the Silverbird Man of the People, Governor Ayodele Fayose while appreciating Silverbird said that the only way out for Nigeria according to late Ojukwu is to go back to the basics. He warned the world is in the perilous times as he preached that Nigerians should be born again.
“We are in the perilous time and have gone back to the analogue age. It will be shocking when you see big men of honour with small phones rather than smart phones as a result of the state of the nation. A lot of men that we used to know to be vocal are hiding under the table, the truth must be said and I won’t desist from it. Nigeria is our father land. Don’t cross lines, don’t bring cows to my door step, I am not going to be part of that.
“I appreciate my wife a lot for such a woman to marry a man like me in times like this. My wife is too prayerful and we know our levels. In the morning she holds my two legs and will pray I return home. But the truth is she is married, too late. I listened to what late Ojukwu said years ago that we should go back to the basics, without going back, we are going nowhere. The reality must be said that we must be born again,” he said.
Commending the efforts of the Silverbird Group to development and growth of the nation, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in his keynote speech said that the award programme would go a long way to encouraging Nigerians do more and by so doing will develop the country to an imaginary height.
Atiku lauded Governor Wike for his commitment to the growth of Rivers State. “I have been associated with Rivers State for the past 35 years. There is no part in the Niger Delta, Rivers in particular that I have not been to. I was in Governor Wike’s office when I asked him if has been able to connect some roads in the state which I saw needs intervention and he immediately went through his project book and showed me the completion of the roads. Believe me he has laid the foundation of prosperity for the people in Rivers and in Nigeria in general. And this is a remarkable achievement I find very important,” he said.
Chairman Silverbird Group, Senator Ben Bruce noted that the awards presented were driven by the vote of Nigerians and not personal decision. “I want to say we don’t just give award because we feel they are important but they are the choice of Nigerians through vote. Nobody will say the awards were given by Ben Bruce. I’m honest to no man call Governor Wike. Although he is my friend but he was voted for as the Silverbird Man of the Year. I am so excited for the success of this year’s event,” he noted.
Past winners of the Silverbird Man of the Year Award include, late Professor Dora Akunyili, Governor Nasir el-Rufai, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Adams Oshiomhole, Dr. Mike Adenuga, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Mr. Peter Obi, Babatunde Fashola, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and Governor Willie Obiano.