By Chidi Obineche
The year 2020 was a year of pain, scourge and deaths. The world stood in awe, sear and anguish. It was a year that saw the first ever pandemic caused by a coronavirus.
Yes, in 2020, waves of gripping panic palpably seized the people. Lockdowns held sway. Businesses ebbed away. Life in itself strung on a kaleidoscope of despair. The big shriveled and the small and weak panned away.
Interestingly, amidst the throbs of misery, depression and hell, came along men and women who waltzed through, brimming with excellence. They painted an ecstatic canvas of resilience. They forged a world of doggedness and forked out a resilient climate. They lit the way and soared to the mountain top.
They are the high- flyers, the winners of The Sun Awards, 2020. These exceptional Nigerians hugged the broad landscape of excellence, resilience and doggedness with flourish. Like Eagles, they are far from the madding crowd. The best thrill and drama come in the rebound from the throes of incipient defeat to the glitter ring of impetuosity of the gallant. From the alluring world of excellence, they stirred a rude awakening to resilience. And from the doggedness of their tour de force, a lease of hope is implanted.
From politics, governance, philanthropy, investments, business, hospitality, long service, entertainment, creativity, the nation harvested men and women of distinction, who pasted sunny smiles on a darkling patch of the otiose republic.
Iconic governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, a never- say- die political broker, took the highway of belligerence in astute defiance of popular values. He crushed and flushed out the ravages of CO- VID-19 in his state.
With astonishing speed, he was firm, bold, courageous, determined, productive, progressive and unwavering as he rallied the odds in the treasure base of the nation where he rules in situ. He typifies the daring, all action leader and earned the sobriquet “Mr Project” even in the grim times. He affected the news and lives for good or ill.
Take Mele Kyary and dissect. In addition to the record breaking N287 billion profits posted for 2020, the best since inception 44 years ago, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which he heads published the audited financial statements (AFS). It was trailblazing and a whiff of good fortune in a beleaguered entity and time.
Examine Yahaya Bello, a young Turk and governor of Kogi State. Under the sun, he seized the imagination, carved out a panorama, built a niche in a troubled time. His dubiety, skepticism and non- conformist posture to the existence of the rampaging Coronavirus disease raised storms and tantrums.
His head was unbowed. He held the state aloft from the malady and sallied to a berth. In this thread are stimulating samplers that form a rare ingathering of strides in his governance of the state. What he has done to make his state safe is a study in strategy and determination.
When you talk of the governor of Kano, the lines of doggedness fall in pleasant places. In a season of turmoil, his reforms, bold initiatives and economic engineering engendered a talismanic view of a state burdened with poverty. And with him, the view that ICONs are made in heaven becomes inviolable.
With measured steps, Yobe State governor and caretake chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mai Mala Buni, holds and strikes the gavel in an undulating, back- breaking political terrain, snaking and winding around the labyrinthine to stay the party on the path. It was resilience in the age of stupid. It was the myth of resilience unbound. On the unfurling scroll, but in no way less deserving, are other doers and climbers whose dints affronted the dowdy layers of commonness and lack of motion.
The likes of irrepressible Betty Akeredolu nee Anyanwu, who, as the lead lady in Ondo State, headlined a flush of spousal support, philanthropy and activism rolled into one. Like the legendary Joan of Arc, she rode the storms and undid ties in a close interethnic marriage of three decades on and more. Barrister Allen Onyema and Dr. Adedeji Adeleke double down the road of philanthropy.
Ideally dubbed the patriot with the air of peace, the former, amidst a coterie of acts of big heart, cut the edge in bounteous airlift of Nigerians stranded in the wake of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
The latter, a champion of dignified charity giving, belongs to the pantheon of informal angels.
For littering the space with investments, Prince Chris Igwe and High Chief Frank Okafor are adorned with the robe of honour. Seplat’s ABC Orjiakor and Slot’s Nnamdi Ezeigbo take their slots for their groundbreaking entrepreneurship. And then comes Mustapha Ado, Ebuka Onunkwo, Mohammed Buba Marwa, Shuiab Ibrahim, Obinna iyiego (Obi Cubana) and Kanayo O kanayo.
They represent a bellowing tendency in industrialization, public service, hospitality and the revered Nollywood.
And when the bugle for long service and sports sound, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, Moses Ekpo, George Obiozor and Philip Shaibu’s names ring with the sound.
Here’s a time of reckoning, a page of honour, a momento to hold, and a light to illuminate the greasy void that pulsates the nation.
These are the winners of The Sun Awards 2020.