ON Saturday, February 20, The Sun Publishing Limited amid pomp, held this year’s edition of the prestigious Sun Awards at the high brow Expo Convention Centre, Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos State.
The event has come and gone, but the memory would not easily fade away from those that attended the glamorous show, especially the recipients of the much revered awards.
It was a night of not just rewarding hard work and excellence, but the atmosphere was amplified and laden with live performance by vintage band, dance, sumptuous meal and other side attractions. The beauty of the night has since made the event to become talk of the town.
The Sun Awards 2015, which was the 13th edition, recognised and celebrated outstanding Nigerians, who made indelible marks in various spheres of human endeavour last year.
The magnificent hall, including the chairs and tables at the venue were beautifully decorated in red and white colour. Although, the programme, which was slated for 3pm, crawled into the night, but The Sun was simply irrepressible. It shone so radiantly and dazzlingly on the awardees and the invited guests, shattering the rooftop and literally extending to the environs. For those who couldn’t attend the event, they had the privilege of watching the awards night as it unfolded, through live transmission on two national television stations – Channels and Television Continental.
When the entourage of Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano and former Governor Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu stormed the event, exchange of pleasantries rent the air like a staccato of gunshots. It was almost endless. The dignitaries wanted to use the rare opportunity to say everything that needed to be said within the limited time and the event provided that fitting vent. They threw jabs at one another.
The awards, traditionally aimed at celebrating Nigeria’s very best and finest in different endeavours, was spiced up with unrivalled entertainment and lots more of fun. Leading the squad of entertainers that thrilled guests at the highly-rated event, was rave of the moment and music star, Mr. Harrison Okiri (Harrysong). The young brilliant music maestro, who is also the recipient of The Sun Creative Person of the Year Award, was simply at his best element.
When he was invited to the podium to perform, he grabbed the microphone and seized the stage, and soon melted into the audience, singing his hit tracks to the pleasure of the participants. Some of the guests – both old and young could not resist the vibes and lyrics that suddenly filled the hall, so, they jumped to their feet and began to dance to the melodious voice of the adorable reigning Harrysong. The hall was charged for the few minutes he performed. The event, perhaps, would not have ended well without the music sensation being part of the day’s entertainment component. Harrysong, whose reggae blues has topped the chart for many months on radio and television, again, proved the stuff he was made of. It was an evening of excitement and fulfillment, many agreed.
The occasion was anchored by the widely celebrated entertainer and venerated compere, Basorge Tariah, who brought his wealth of experience and fluency in the Queen’s language to bear. He effortlessly directed the proceedings with a blend of modesty and flavour, dutifully using the right words at the right place to the approval.
Tariah, a multi-talented creative personality, who combines as master of ceremony, comedian, event host and actor did justice to the responsibility he was given for the night – to direct the order of the programme.
Veentage Band, kept the venue alive with the replay of great contemporary and evergreen tunes. The crew sang songs of the yore by notable local musicians such as Fela Anikulapo-kuti, Victor Uwaifo and the rest. Members of the band were not, for one moment, found wanting as they further electrified guests and added vim and vigour to the gathering. If you describe them as the reservoir of both local and foreign songs, you won’t be exaggerating. Dishing out live music, they ensured that the guests didn’t regret their presence while the awards night lasted. The guests were well-fed with the songs and there was no doubt that they were thrilled and satisfied.
Members of the Mkpoti Umunze, a cultural troupe from Anambra State, also skillfully and energetically entertained the audience with their acrobatic dance steps. They came from the eastern part of the country to Lagos for the show, to prove their mettle. The audience was seen nodding their heads and clapping their hands in appreciation of the troupe’s exceptional display and prowess.
Dignitaries from all walks of life were so much on parade that it became a huge task for those making speeches to accurately observe protocols. Political titans, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, governors, senators and their colleagues from the lower chamber, commissioners and legal luminaries graced the event. Notable artistes, including a nollywood veteran, Pete Edochie, beauty pageants, models, traditional rulers and endless list of business moguls, who attended the event added more glamour and glitz to the annual show, which has now become an event to be reckoned with in Nigeria and beyond. Indisputably, the calibre of dignitaries that graced the occasion was intimidating. They brought in panache and razzmatazz to the event.
This year, 19 Nigerians were honoured for distinguishing themselves in different fields. They were described as extraordinary men and women for going the extra mile to display uncommon impeccable character even in the face of daunting challenges bedeviling the country Nigeria in many areas.
The magnificent hall was filled to the brim by people, who came from far and near to experience the blazing of The Sun. Guests, who came late to event, unfortunately, didn’t have a space to sit. An event planner, Mrs. Maureen Chukwuma, who said she had been attending the awards for the past four years to learn, described this year’s event as an overflow and consolidation on the past ones.
The awardees include, the National Leader of the ruling APC and ex-governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who carted away with the admired Man of the Year, while Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, smiled home with the coveted The Sun Governor of the Year.
Apart from Tinubu, and Obiano other that were rewarded were Hajia Nana Shettima (Most Supportive First Lady); Dr. Uche Ogah, President, Master Energy Oil and Gas Limited (Investor of the Year); Mr. Yemi Adeola, Group Managing Director of Sterling Bank Plc. (Banker of the Year); Dr. Obiora Chukwuka (Businessman of the Year); Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, Director-General of the Nigerian Pension Commission (Public Service Award); Mr. Amaju Pinnick (Sport Person of the Year); and Mr. Harrison Okiri, popularly known as Harrysong (Creative Person of the Year).
Others are Mrs. Josephine Ugwu (Nigerian Hero Award); Mrs. Omoni Oboli (Nollywood Person of the Year); Chief Vincent Obianodo, Chairman of Chisco Transport (Hospitality Man of the Year) and Chief Eric Umeofia, Chairman, Erisco Foods Limited (Manufacturer of the Year).
Others who received the Lifetime Achievement Awards are, former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar; General Ike Nwachukwu; Chief Mbazulike Amechi; Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia; Chief Kessington Adebutu; and Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar, former Chief Justice of Nigeria.
In about 60 seconds, all the awardees or their representatives expressed delight and appreciation for being counted worthy and chosen to receive the enviable awards.
The Managing Director of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr Eric Osagie, who was visibly elated seeing the personalities at the event, said the awardees changed the paradigm, altered the equation and quickened the pace of activities in the march of progress to the future.
When the Hero of the Year, Ms Josephine Ugwu was called out to receive her award, the audience, in a standing ovation, roared the lady to stage for her honesty that earned her the recognition. She was rewarded for returning a lost sum of N12 million in foreign currency to owner.
Aside the 12 million, she had in the past, on three occasions returned some huge some of money she found while she was on her duty post in her places of work. She lost her parents at a tender age and as at the time she found and returned the money, she was earning meagre N7, 500 as salary.
While thanking The Sun for recognising her, the delighted lady said she did what she did to make Nigeria proud before the world. She informed the audience that the way she was brought and moulded by her aunt and other relatives defines her present character and actions.
Many prominent Nigerians have won The Sun Awards in the past. They include, Minister of Transport, Chibuike Amaechi, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN); Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi; President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Chairman of Globacom, Dr. Mike Adenuga.
Others are former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso; former governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan; former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; ex-governor of Gombe State, Alhaji Danjuma Goje and former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
The former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida; former Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Danjuma, Chief Tony Anenih; Prof Joe Irukwu, Don Jazzy, Mrs. Ekaete Unoma Akpabio and Mrs. Doshima Suswam, among others, have also won the award in different categories.