Soyinka, Onyema, Dangote, Agbakoba, Umar, Adenuga to Receive ‘Leading from the Street’ Award

Dike Onwuamaeze

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka; the Chief Executive Officer of Airpeace, Mr. Allen Onyema; President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; a Leading Civil Rights Activist, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN); former Military Governor of Kaduna State, Colonel Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (rtd), and Founder of Globacom, Chief Mike Adenuga, would be among prominent Nigerians that would be conferred with the “Leading from The Streets Award.”

The award is targeted at deserving individuals and corporate organisations, “that have touched the lives of Nigerians in profound ways” would be part of the activities to mark the public presentation of Magnus Onyibe’s Book: “Leading from The Streets…,” which would take place on May 8, at Alliance Francais/Mike Adenuga Centre, Lagos.

The event is also expected to mark the first time the trio of Nigeria’s former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, Soyinka and Mr. Lekan Alabi would meet themselves in a public event.

Alabi, then a daring secondary school student, wrote a public letter that was published in the newspapers imploring Gowon to release Soyinka from indefinite detention in 1967.

A press statement issued by the Team Lead, Strategic Communications, Tervel T. Kejih, stated that a panel discussion by experts on the theme “Tinubonomics: What’s Working, What’s Not, Why, and Way Forward,” would also be part of the book presentation.

According to the statement, Soyinka’s consistent commitment to the unity of Nigeria was one of the reasons he was being conferred with the award.

It stated that Soyinka, who would turn 90 years on July 13, was committed to jail in 1967 by the federal government of Nigeria for 22 months because he wrote and published an article in the mass media trying to dissuade the federal government from going to war against Biafra.

“Instead of heeding his wise counsel of urging both sides to come to a negotiated settlement, he was incarcerated for allegedly being an accomplice of the separatist Biafran side. Soyinka was awarded the Nobel laurel in literature in 1986.

“Once again, consistent with his unwavering support for the downtrodden and society alike, he has recently been engaged in the struggle for Nigeria’s unity, notably his calling out of Labor Party’s vice presidential candidate for 2023 elections, threatening that there would be civil disobedience if current president, Senator Bola Tinubu were to be sworn into office before his victory was affirmed by the court.”

The statement noted that Onyema made the award list for rescuing Nigerians stranded in foreign countries during periods of conflicts, free of charge, with his Airpeace airline and recently   crashed the cost of flight tickets from about N4 million to N1.2 million for the lucrative Lagos to London route that had been monopolised by United Kingdom based airlines.

Airpeace has even gone further to offer rebate fares to Nigerian students studying abroad so that they can be encouraged to come home more often.

“For that selfless service, which was not offered from the corridors of political power, Allen Onyema/Airpeace is being honored with the Leading From The Streets award,” it said

Similarly, Africa’s richest man, Dangote, made the award list for his enviable marks as an entrepreneur and philanthropist, whose passion for Nigeria and Nigerians was demonstrated by investing a whopping $20 billion dollars into building the recently commissioned 650,000 barrels a day Dangote Refinery. 

“With the coming on stream of the refinery, the price of diesel has been crashed from about N1,700 per liter to below N1,000 per liter. 

“That is apart from the N15 billion that he recently expended in procuring palliatives like rice for distribution to the masses across the country to ameliorate the pervading effect of hunger.”

Agbakoba was considered for the award because of the frontline role he played in the in the struggle to entrench democratic leadership in Nigeria after a long period of military rule. He has remained committed to the pursuit of public good without occupying any public office.

The promoters of the event stated that Umar’s quality as a disciplinarian and a man that is full of integrity earned him a place in award list. 

The promoters also said that Adenuga earned the award for his remarkable gesture of positively touching lives without wielding political power, especially through “his dogged determination to positively change the course of history for Nigerians by democratising access to telecommunications services.

“Apart from his outstanding role in philanthropy, it is his telecommunications firm, Globacom, that introduced per-second billing for GSM telephone service to Nigerians after the foreign service providers had been operating the per-minute billing system that compelled subscribers to pay for minutes of phone calls even if they only made a few seconds of call.

“When Globacom made its debut in the Nigerian market, it also crashed the price of SIM cards from N30,000 to N7,900 only, thus precipitating the putting of telephone service in the hands of basically every Nigerian irrespective of their status in society-high or low.”

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