By Tony Ogaga
ON Sunday, February 19, Lagos grounded to a halt as all roads led to Eko Convention Centre, Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, for this year’s edition of Silverbird Man of The Year Awards.
Those honoured included Turakin Adamawa, Atiku Abubakar, Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, Jim Ovia, Nigeria’s Super Falcons and Zainab Bagudu. Others are Senator Florence Ita Giwa, Femi Falana, Pat Utomi and and the distinguished SIlverbird Man of The Year, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State. The award began with a Red Carpet event and at exactly 7pm, Sony Irabor, the anchorman threw the show open to the delight of guests.
Abiodun Koya’s extraordinary performance
Indeed, the ceremony started on a high note as US-based Nigerian opera singer, Abiodun Koya did a unique rendition of the National Anthem and received tremendous applause. Dressed in a glittering green dress, the Flourish Me and I Will Lift Up Nigeria With My Voice singer cut a great shape as she sang her heart out to the delight of guests.
Governor Obiano’s moment
The highpoint of the evening was when multiple award winning governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, received his award from the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, the Ojaja II.
Speaking, Obiano dedicated his award to Nigerian youths saying: “I am dedicating this award to the youths of Nigeria who are waiting for us leaders to do something new in their lives. God has entrusted us with the leadership of this country; it is for a purpose, let us make sure we utilize that purpose very well.
“We can achieve this by the way we conduct ourselves by shunning corruption, showing integrity and showing that hard work pays.
“We have demonstrated our desire to work with the youth and that is why I appointed the youngest commissioner in Nigeria today at the age of 30 as my Commissioner for Works & Economic Planning. 58 per cent of the people working with me are within the age bracket of 18 and 31.”
The governor also used the opportunity to unveil Made in Anambra State rice. Over 3000 bags were given out to guests. Commenting, Ben Murray Bruce said Obiano won the award because Nigerians voted for him.
If there is one thing Ooni of Ife is doing, it is his drive to rebrand the highest traditional stool in Yorubaland. That the Ooni is bringing the royal house closer to the people is not in doubt. And he is proving that he is indefatigable!
On Saturday February 18, he was at The Sun Awards where he stayed till the very end and on Sunday, dressed in impeccable white and coral beads, the Ooni who is doing all he can to push the Nigerian brand was on ground again to make the Sliverbird Man of the Year Awards a memorable one.
Indeed, it was with excitement the audience responded when he presented Obiano’s award, describing the governor as a man he is proud to be associated with and calling on other Nigerian governors to emulate him.
Florence Ita Giwa’s double joy
It was Mama Bakassi, Senator Florence Ita Giwa’s turn to shine this year, as she was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award which was presented to her by the Yeye Oge of Lagos, Mrs. Opral Benson.
Receiving the award, Ita Giwa who turned 71 on the same day, said: “Thank God I turned 71 today. I want to thank you so much for this recognition. God has used me as a voice for the voiceless. They continue to trample on my people and I have been in the struggle which will continue till my people are completely resettled and treated like Nigerians.
“And I thank God for Silverbird for giving me this award. I am so excited to be recipient of this award.”
Pat Utomi’s big question
Indeed, when it was time for philanthropist and business magnate, Pat Utomi to receive his Lifetime Achievement Award, he held the audience spell bound with his short speech and asked a question that sent the entire venue erupting in spontaneous applause.
“So many people get awards for achieving. If so many have achieved so much, how come our country is in misery?” He asked rhetorically adding, “so, we should be asking ourselves, what are our achievements? Our country is challenged by the failure of leadership.” With this the entire venue burst into another round of applause.
Enter orator, Dino Melaye
Aside being controversial and having a love for vintage cars, Kogi State Senator, Dino Maleye is also an orator. Maleye who was Guest Lecturer at the awards delivered a lecture themed: ‘Separation of Powers’ that lasted for the best part of an hour.
The high point was when he described Nigerian democracy as “government of the greedy for the greedy by the greedy” and also described Nigeria’s condition as a consequence of satanic manifestation.
“Tell your neighbour, be a change agent,” his voice thundered as the entire hall reverberated. “We are here because of tribalism, nepotism and corruption. The time to do away with tribalism is now. That is why I have sponsored a bill that will emphasise state of residence over state of origin.”
Hammering on the issue of corruption and why he will continue to lampoon the Buhari administration despite being an APC member, he continued: “Where are NPN, NPC and the rest of them. They are gone but the Nigerian people are still here so, I will continue to speak.
“I am challenging everyone this evening to get out of their cocoons and become agents of change. And I have a warning for all governors, all senators and House of Assembly members including myself. If we refuse to separate powers, Nigerians should separate us from power. I am calling on Nigerians to separate us from power if we fail to separate powers.”
The Senator ended his speech with a rendition of the popular song which Martin Luther sang during his march on Washington DC in 1963 entitled, ‘We Shall Overcome’ and guests sang along with him including Atiku Abubakar.
Hajia Bagudu’s glorious strides
For Hajia Zainab Bagudu, wife of Kebbi State governor and the brains behind Medicaid Cancer Foundation/Medicaid Diagnostic Centre, platforms set up to tackle breast cancer, who received a Special Achievement Award for her work of fighting cancer, it was smiles all the way.
Her joy at being celebrated was obvious, as she took time to deliver a speech paying homage to the influences in her life especially her husband, Governor Atiku Bagudu.
Hear her: “I want to acknowledge my dear husband. Most of you have heard about him and what he has been doing. If I did not have such a broad minded husband, I won’t be here today. He has been instrumental to the success of Medicaid Cancer Centre.”
And as expected, the audience appreciated the governor with a resounding applause, to her delight.