Recognising Worthy Nigerians

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Sunday Ehigiator, who was present at the 2017 Zik Prize Awards in Lagos, writes about the big winners at the occasion  

Chief Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe, (16 November 1904 – 11 May 1996), who was usually referred to as Nnamdi Azikiwe or Zik, was a prominent Nigerian nationalist and statesman who served as the first President of Nigeria from 1963 to 1966, holding the presidency throughout the Nigerian First Republic. He is popularly considered a driving force behind the nation’s independence and came to be known as the “Father of Nigerian Nationalism”. Hence the Prestigious Zik’s Award was named after him in recognition of his outstanding contributions and patriotism by any individual in any sector of the country, towards national development. Instituted 24 years ago in honour of Nigeria’s first president, the late Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Zik Award is primarily to encourage and nurture leadership on the African continent and in the diaspora. The Zik Prize Award is organised by the Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC).

The heavily guarded and branded occasion which held on April 15, 2018, at the event arm of Civic Tower in Victoria Island, Lagos, was chaired by Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the U.S., Professor George Obiozor, the Royal Father of the Day, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II, was represented by Sheik Muhammad M. Karaye, former Secretary General of Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, and Chairman Advisory Board of the Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC), Professor Jibril Aminu.

Other dignitaries at the event included, Katsina State governor, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, Rivers State governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano and his wife Ebelechukwu, Bauchi State governor, Alhaji Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar and his wife, Hadiza, Kebbi State governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Sokoto State governor, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal and former governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande.

Also, at the event were, the APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, former Senate President, Senator Ken Nnamani, Senator Ike Nwachukwu, Dr. Adedeji Adeleke, Chairman of Fidelity Bank, Chief Ernest Ebi, Chairman/CEO AFDIN Nigeria Ltd, Alhaji Dahiru Bara’u Mangal, Dr. Alex Otti, NNPC Group Managing Director, Alhaji Maikanti Baru, Senator Ademola Adeleke, Prince Emeka Obasi, Secretary to the Government of Katsina State, Dr. Mustapha Muhammad Inuwa, Chief of Staff to Katsina State governor, Malam Bello Mandiya, Professor Pat Utomi, Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu, Alhaju Abdulaziz Ude and many others.

“It was one of the rare occasions in Nigeria where we witness politicians of different political interests and party, along with several other big-shots of the Nigerian economy, gather together under one umbrella to celebrate each other for a job well done.” This was one of the remarks of the moderator of the night, Gbenga Adeyinka, as the award tendering proper, begun.

In his welcome address, Chairman Advisory Board, PPRAC, Aminu said the Zik Prize Leadership Award was instituted in honour of the first President of Nigeria, Late Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe.

He said, “The primary aim is to encourage and nurture leadership on the African continent and in the Diaspora. The Year 2017 Zik Prize Award is set to follow this noble tradition of recognising service excellence.”

For her unswerving humanitarian activities across Bauchi State and the nation in general, the wife of the Bauchi State governor, Hajia Hadiza Abubakar, was conferred with the 2017 Zik Prize Award for Humanitarian Leadership.

Abubakar is the founder and initiator of Bauchi Sustainable Women Economic Empowerment and Peace Initiative. Thousands of women and children across the state have benefited from the people-oriented projects by the initiative since its inception.

B-SWEEP’s overall goal is to promote national development that will improve substantially on the quality of life and living standard of Nigerians in both urban and rural communities, particularly the vulnerable group – the women of Bauchi State.

The award was presented to Abubakar by the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

Next to also receive the Zik Prize Humanitarian Leadership Award was the First Lady of Anambra State, Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano.

Mrs. Obiano formed Caring Family Enhancement Initiatives  (CAFE) for using the organisation’s platform to reach out to the physically challenged and the needy. She runs the activities of CAFE through monetary donations and other gift items from public spirited individuals. Osodieme, as she is fondly called by her admirers, is not an emergency philanthropist and she is not into philanthropy because her husband is the governor of Anambra State.

She has been into philanthropic work before the emergence of her husband as Anambra State governor. It is on record that she is the only woman admitted into the prestigious fold of Aguleri Royal Cabinet. She has built houses for widows and she also built market toilets for rural women. Her reason for building market toilets is to promote hygiene and healthy environment as well as to put a stop to the bad habit of open defecation.

She provided free prosthetics limbs, free cleft palate and lip surgeries for the physically challenged. She also undertakes the treatment of the mentally ill in Anambra State. She rehabilitates them and reintegrates them into the society.

The most recent was her integration of a rehabilitated 62 years mentally deranged woman that lost touch with her family members for almost 35 years. On that day, the family members of the woman shed tears of joy.

The Political Leadership Award was bestowed upon Chief Adebisi Akande, former governor of Osun State, for the active role he has been playing towards the integration of the country. Akande was the first interim national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Ernest Ebi, Chairman of Fidelity Bank Plc and Dr. Maikanti Baru, Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), respectively bagged the Professional Leadership Awards on the night based on merit.

As Dr. Adedeji Adeleke, Chairman of SEPCO-Pacific, was bestowed with the Business Leadership Award.

Similarly, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, received the Zik Public Service Award.

Rivers State governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, was conferred with the 2017 Zik Award for Good Governance. According to organisers of the award instituted in honour of Nigeria’s first president, the late Nnamdi Azikiwe, Governor Wike was singled out for his people-oriented projects spread across the state and for his commitment to the promotion of justice, equity as well as the interest of the people of the state and the Niger Delta region as whole.

The last award for the night was also that of 2017 Zik Leadership Prize on Good Governance conferred on Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari. The governor was described by the organisers as a “dogged fighter” and honoured for his people-oriented reforms, massive grassroots and infrastructural development projects across the state. While presenting the award, the PPRAC Chairman, Aminu said the award was given to the governor in recognition of his track record of leadership. He cited Masari’s leadership role as Speaker of the federal House of Representatives and now as governor of Katsina State. Aminu noted that as governor, Masari has contributed greatly to the enhancement of the education sector in Katsina State. The National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, the Senate leader, Alhaji Ahmad Lawan, Governors of Sokoto and Kebbi, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, the deputy governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Mannir Yakubu, Senator Umar Ibrahim Kurfi and Senator Abu Ibrahim, the Speaker of Katsina State House of Assembly, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar Kusada and Alhaji Dahiru Bara’u Mangal, Mrs. Daisy Emeka Obasi, all mounted the podium to accompany the governor to receive the award that was presented by the former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku.

Masari, who spoke on behalf of other awardees, said the awards would spur a harmonious relationship among politicians in the country. “On behalf of the recipients of the 2017 Zik Prize Awards, I thank the organisers for this honour done us. We will not fail the organisers who found us worthy of the award. We will continue to do more in the service of our fatherland,” adding “I’m happy to see most of my friends I have not met in the last seven years,” he said.