By NDUBUISI ORJI and AYO ALONGE
THE ceremony was to honour 19 eminent Nigerians, who have distinguished themselves in their various fields of endeavour. But really, it was Senator Bola Tinubu’s day of honour. The former Lagos State governor, popularly known as Jagaban, was honoured as The Sun Man of the Year for his exploits in Nigeria’s political firmament. Tinubu, a national leader of the All Progressives Congress(APC) is a veteran of several political battles, many of which he won. The most outstanding of his political victories and the latest was the defeat of Nigeria’s former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) by APC, which the Jagaban played a prominent role in putting together.
It was for his doggedness and political sagacity that he was honoured as The Sun Man of the Year.
Tinubu knew the award was a no mean feat and as such was not going to leave the event to pass like that.
He had said, “I am honoured to have been picked as The Sun Man of the Year. The decision to give me this Award I understand resulted from a thorough process of reviewing political developments that our country in the last quarter of a century has witnessed and particularly monumental happenings in the past one year.
“ I am humble enough to know The Sun could have chosen one of several figures.
“…yet, I am mindful enough to realize such Award does not come frequently and that I better grab the good thing given to me.”
The Jagaban, expectedly, rolled out the drums to celebrate the honour and brought his personality and charm to bear on the ceremony, thereby adding more colour to it.
A crowd puller, the former Lagos state governor brought his electrifying touch to bear on the occasion. He pulled his supporters from across the country to Eko Hotels and Suites, venue of the event.
From top government officials at the federal level to state governors, and other sundry politicians, they gathered to celebrate with him. A tumultuous crowd of his associates also graced the occasion.
Dignitaries that stormed the Eko Hotels and Suites to celebrate with the APC leader included Vice President Yemi Osibanjo; Governors Akinwunmi Ambode and Ibinkunle Amosun of Lagos and Ogun state respectively. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation(SGF), Babachir Lawal;Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige; Minister of Solid Minerals,Dr Kayode Fayemi and Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed were also present.
The National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led other APC big wigs to the event.
Former governor of Oyo State, Otunba Christopher Alao-akala and chieftain of the APC was also on ground to celebrate with the Jagaban. Also, former national chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria(ACN), Chief Bisi Akande was on hand to celebrate with the former Lagos governor.
The traditional institution was not left out as the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu also graced the occasion.
The Majority Leader, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila also led some other members of the lower chamber of the National Assembly to honour the APC national leader.
To add more pep to the event and bring his exploits home to Nigerians who could not make it to the epoch making event, shared in his joy, Television Continental (TVC) was on ground to beam the event live.
At the red-letter event, Tinubu, who said they (APC) brought back hope to the people, could not help expressing his joy in a rather comical way, as he thrilled the audience with dance steps reminiscent of the Eyo rhythm, a popular song peculiar to Lagos natives.
After dancing, Tinubu lauded the virtues of the Chairman of The Sun Publishing Limited and former governor of Abia State, Dr Orji Uzo Kalu, who, according to him, is a brother, friend, dogged fighter, an employer of labour and an industrialist par excellence.
Presenting the award to the Jagaban Borgu, Dr Kalu recalled his exploits in the battle for the enthronement and enhancement of democracy in the country, noting that the award is the company’s way of celebrating him.
Earlier, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, while extolling the personality of Tinubu, had, on a light mood, described the Jagaban of Borgu, as a man that is fond of making troubles.
“People call him Jagaban, a name that suggests trouble-making, but I think this has helped to achieve many positive positions in the nation, including APC’s victory at the last elections, and I must say that I have been at the butt of his trouble-making for a long time. When I served as the Attorney General of Lagos State, he would often say, when I tried to explain that something should be done in a particular way, ‘how would you have a job, if I don’t make trouble,” Osinbajo had said.
The former Lagos state governor was also at his humorous best, and would not let any jab go unreplied.
He jokingly described Osinbanjo and members of his party, who are short as the real trouble makers.
“We have our trouble makers in the party, and they are very short. Oshiomole, Chris Ngige, the vice-president, and El Rufai.”
Tinubu also poked fun on Igbo men from Anambra, while trying to pick on the Governor of the state, Willie Obiano, who was honoured as the The Sun Governor of Year. His words: “Your Excellency the Governor of Anambra State, you are welcome to Lagos State. Please come and join us on stage and please know that every successful Igboman today, made his money here in Lagos.”
The day may have come and gone, but for the Jagaban and his clan, it will be a day to always remember.