Former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, will chair the first Igbo Business Hall of Fame Awards slated to hold at Nike Lake Hotel, Enugu, on December 5.
Mr Nik Ogbulie, executive director of Champions Court, the organisers of the award, who disclosed this in a statement said that the event will have no fewer than 200 high profile guests, including diplomats, top government officials, politicians, senior judicial officers, religious leaders, senior public servants and captains of industry.
He noted that this will be Jonathan’s first major outing to the South East Region since 2015 when he willingly relinquished power.
According to him, the induction will be followed with the unveiling of photographs and intimate personal items of the hall of famers in public galleries and museums in the South East region.
“Eventually, life-like statues of these business icons and their intimate personal items will find a permanent home when the Igbo Business Hall of Fame’s permanent site is completed. Ten entrepreneurs have been shortlisted for the maiden edition of the annual Igbo Business Hall of Fame Awards. Those shortlisted are Dr. Pascal Gabriel Dozie, Chief Allen Ifechukwu Onyema, Prince Arthur Eze, Chief Samuel Maduka Onyishi, Dr. Stella Chinyelu Okoli, Chief Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, Dr. Cosmas Maduka, Dr. Leo Stan Eke, Chief Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma, and Chief Cletus Ibeto.
“They emerged from a long list of 70 formidable entrepreneurs screened by a panel of economists, business analysts, researchers, and reporters,” he said.
Also, the President of Champions Court, Ifeanyi Igwebike Mbanefo said: “It is perhaps a testimony to the quality and calibre of entrepreneurs from South East Nigeria and the golden moments entrepreneurship, especially the famous Igbo apprenticeship scheme, is currently enjoying that the cull from 70 entrepreneurs to 10 felt very painful because of the eminence of the men and women on the long list. However, anyone able to get past his indignation and partisanship will acknowledge that this shortlist is worth celebrating.
“It is time to bring these leaders and accomplishments to public attention. A hall of fame is where history lives through physical and intimate items – old letters, diaries, scrapbooks, medals, trophies, trademark caps, walking sticks, autographed pictures, etc. – and the stories they contain seem to us a more effective way of honouring our business champions.”
He noted that a roll of honour of successful Igbo business leaders along with their trade mark personal items would enrich the artistic, historical, scientific, religious, and social artifacts in the museum and create an invaluable and irreplaceable legacy that would be preserved for future generations.
“The presence of business leaders in Hall of Fame sections embedded in public museums and galleries will enrich the Igbo family heirlooms and ensure that they are available for future generations to enjoy.
“Honouring successful Igbo business leaders by displaying their names and personal items is a way of tethering the present to the past; of making history real through stories we save and pass along. The case for dedicating sections of museums in the heartland of South East to Igbo artifacts and Igbo worldview is straightforward enough. But the case for setting up a Hall of Fame for Igbo business leaders is nevertheless more persuasive – so much so that we are surprised that it has not come into existence earlier.
“It is business leaders that have grown the South East Region’s economy; that have thrown millions of youths a lifeline out of poverty; and created jobs where and when the government could not. Business has given our youths a voice, dignity, opportunities and recognition.
“The Hall of Fame for Business Leaders will provide a different perspective for young people underserved by government policies. It will make them realise that it is possible to go past the hurdles and barricades hemming them in and holding them down. It will allow them to see their world not as it is, but as it could be.
“We are celebrating men and women who have refused to limit themselves to narrow range of entrepreneurial problems. Their versatility and skill in solving societal problems approach the level of poetry. The lifetime achievement prize is awarded yearly to entrepreneurial icons who have left enduring legacies of success in South East and other parts of Nigeria and beyond. The aim is to recognise and celebrate business champions who have demonstrated leadership, business acumen and success, entrepreneurial spirit, integrity and commitment to the society.
“The award was created solely for Igbo entrepreneurs because despite the region’s colourful political history and numerous outstanding achievements, in literature, Arts, music, sports, science and technology, the Igbo is defined mainly by business, industry and resilience.
“Because we are determined that the best candidates, best ideas, regardless of where they come from, should have a chance to be heard and to change the world, we made merit the only criterion for award of this prize. Winners shall be encouraged to take thought leadership positions and bring the best new ideas directly to public attention,” Mbanefo said.