Senate Chief Whip and Founder, The Sun Publishing Limited, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has described the annual Sun Awards as a source of unity in Nigeria as the awardees include people from all walks of life, tribe and tongue, even as he charged the recipients to evolve the spirit of national unity as a key for national development.
The former governor stated this in his opening remarks yesterday at the 2021 Sun Awards which was held at the Expo Hall of Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
He described the award recipients as symbols of true Nigerian story of hard work, resilience and excellence, having excelled in their various fields of endeavour.
He commended the award winners for being singled out among 200 million Nigerians and charged them to keep the fire burning.
“I congratulate all the award recipients. Singling them out 200 million Nigerians is an indication that there is something significant about them. I must say that it is one thing to win an award and another thing to maintain the standard that earns one an award. The onus is, therefore, on the award winners to continue doing their best in order not to descend from the point of excellence to a lower pedestal. They must remain great ambassadors of Nigeria and do everything to ensure that the things that earned them these awards are maintained,” he said.
He stressed that the task of nation building was a collective one, especially now that the country is experiencing some difficulties.
The former Abia governor called on hands to be on deck to ensure that the current challenges facing the country were surmounted.
“We will overcome our challenges when we collectively and sincerely tackle them, no matter our status in the society,” he said.
He charged Nigerians to imbibe to imbibe the spirit of patriotism, selflessness and nationalism irrespective of differences in tribe and language, as the only way to salvage Nigeria from its current challenges.
“Let us stand together as Nigerians. Let us work together to deliver a better society, where our children and grand children will be proud to call home. It is something we can do. It is something we must do,” he submitted.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the event and Methodist Bishop, Sunday Onuoha, also called on Nigerians to live in peace and harmony, noting that irrespective of tribe, culture, language or faith, it is God that has put all Nigerians together for a purpose.
He noted that in his many years of travelling and working with different people across the country, he has discovered that the only recipe for peace was to stop harping on the things that divide Nigerians and concentrate more on those things that unite them.
Bishop Onuoha decried the bloodshed occasioned by banditry, insurgency and kidnapping among other crimes in the country, saying that it was time for Nigeria to heal.
“Our nation has witnessed so much bloodshed. We have seen brutal banditry, insurgency, kidnapping and other sundry crimes. A time has come when righteousness should prevail in this nation. Nigeria, our country, needs healing. Our healing is anchored on equity, justice, fairness and freedom. Peace and unity must reign. The closing verse of our National Anthem says it all: ‘One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.’ This is our creed. We must embrace it and live it,” he stated.
He commended The Sun Newspapers, organizers of the event for maintaining the highest standard in its selection process over the past 19 years.
“Over the years, I have followed The Sun Awards with so much admiration. I have followed how The Sun painstakingly, every year, selects people for various awards. Their choices have been quite good. The setting is always right. And the attendance is superb.
“I have seen The Sun Awards evolving from a sole award ceremony of Man of the Year award to a multifaceted award ceremony. The Sun, in its awards, has enlarged the themes and plots of the Nigerian success story, and by extension, the African success story in a globalized world, where Africa remains the new frontier of growth and development. The Sun Awards ceremony has unconsciously engendered the ethics of hard work among Nigerians, as people look forward to be called to stand before the world and be garlanded,” he said.
In his welcome address, the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh said that the Award was a celebration of determination, excellence, hard work and accomplishments.
He noted that the 26 Nigerians that were honoured at the event had distinguished themselves in various spheres of human endeavours.
“They cut across politics, trade and industry, real estate, sports, entertainment, hospitality, humanitarian services, public service, investment, banking and others. These men and women have proved that things can work in Nigeria, irrespective of our challenges. We call them the shining stars. Stars naturally shine. When a star is, therefore, qualified with the word ‘shining,’ that means that it is extraordinarily bright. That goes for the people we are honouring.
By what they have done for the socio-economic and political development of the country, they shine like a thousand stars, giving the people hope for a better Nigeria. We commend them,” he said.
He added: “On behalf of the Board, Management and Staff of The Sun Publishing Limited, I am delighted to welcome you to the 19th Edition of The Sun Awards. We appreciate your presence tonight. We are grateful that at a political season and a time of other serious government, business and personal engagements, you have spared your precious time to celebrate with us. Thank you so much.
He described the process of selecting winners of the Awards as meticulous just as the process of organizing the Awards is rigorous.
“The Sun Awards ceremony is consistent with the newspaper’s vision of being a dominant media content provider and entertainment company in Nigeria and Africa, through the pursuit of excellence in delivering innovative and quality media and entertainment products. We have kept faith with this, remaining true to our cherished ideals, philosophy and values.”
He said that the Award is expected to engender the ethics of hard work among Nigerians, and invariably produce more award winners in the future.
He charged the winners to continue to hold their heads high, never to lower the standard as only that would justify the honour that has been bestowed on them through the awards.
“For the award winners, we say: Continue to excel. Do not lower the standard that has given you the award. Continue to be ambassadors of The Sun, by doing what would promote excellence and, therefore, justify always the garlands you wear today.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a night of celebration. Like in previous editions, this year’s event, which is the celebration of 2021 achievers, promises to keep to the tradition of being the biggest media event. Relax and enjoy the show,” he stated.