Here we go again! It’s that time of the year, when we roll out the drums to celebrate worthy Nigerians in different spheres of life. People, who, in our judgement, have made significant contributions to our nation in the year under review.
Last year, 2017, the winners were tagged “The Pacesetters,” the year before, 2016, we had “Game Changers”. In 2018, our winners are The Visionaries.
Yes, The Visionaries! Men and women driven by ideas to take their country and people to the future. They live in the moment, but their thinking belong to now and tomorrow.
When we chose each year’s theme, we are often guided by the common defining characteristics of the winners of the year in focus; if you like, the denominator common to all the winners, or most of the winners.
What do we mean when we call The Sun 2018 award winners, visionaries? Here is how the world sees visionaries. Oxford dictionaries define the term (visionary) thus: “Thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom.”
Merriam-webster says, “A visionary is someone with a strong vision of the future.”
The Collins dictionary is even more explicit in defining what it means to call anyone a visionary: “If you refer to someone as a visionary, you mean that they have strong, original ideas about how things might be improved. Visionaries see the world ahead in terms of what it can be.”
Now, take a bow Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the fire-spitting, radical governor of Kaduna State, who is The Sun Man of the Year, 2018. It doesn’t matter if you love or loathe him, he just carries on like a bulldozer, pulling down dark, retrogressive strongholds and building dreams of what he believes an ideal society should be. Read his profile in this package, and you will find yourself agreeing with us.
Rt.Hon.Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, governor of Enugu State, Governor of the Year; Alhaji Kashim Shettima, governor of Borno State, Courage in Leadership award winner; Hon. Seriake Dickson, governor of Bayelsa State, Outstanding Politician of the Year and Justice Suzzette Nyesom-Wike, Most Supportive First Lady award winner, are visionaries in their own rights. Their profiles tell fitting tales of leaders concerned about the progress and future of their people and environments.
We also have our Lifetime Achievement Award winners: Aremo Olusegun Osoba, ace reporter, media technocrat and former governor of Ogun State; iconic musician, King Sunny Ade and frontline politician and pacesetter, Sen. Florence Ita-Giwa. There is also legal titan, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN, our pioneer Education Entrepreneur of the Year award winner. A peep into their bags of achievements simply dazes you!
In other categories, we have no less impressive array of super achievers: Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, (Banker of the Year); Dr David Chukwudozie, Chairman of Dozzy Group (Manufacturer of the Year); Dr(Sir) Leemon Ikpea, Chairman, Lee Engineering and Construction Limited(Business Person of the Year).
In the public service award category are Mr Nsima Ekere, chief executive officer of the Niger Delta Development Commission and Professor Ishaq Oloyede, registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, who emerged joint winners.
Forbes-rated richest black woman and notable philanthropist, Mrs Folorunso Alakija and Emperor Chris Baywood, chairman of Baywood Foundation, emerged joint winners in the humanitarian services category.
Sports Personality of the Year award was also jointly won by world heavyweight boxing champion, Anthony Joshua and top striker in the national female team, Azeezat Oshoola.
Two entertainment superstars, Genevieve Nnaji and David Adeleke, aka, Davido, are our Nollywood and Creative Personalities of the Year award winners, respectively.
And for their extraordinary commitment to their country and humanity, as well as demonstrable heroic feats, Mr Joe Blackson, who died after saving 13 people in a boat mishap, and Alhaji Abubakar Abdulkadir, a Muslim cleric, who saved about 300 Christians from being killed by herdsmen, are joint winners of The Sun Hero of the Year award.
In all, twenty-two persons; ordinary Nigerians who made extraordinary marks in 2018. You call them The Sun Award winners. We see them as visionaries…