By Job Osazuwa
Call it the mother of all social events, you are certainly not wrong. Saturday, October 16, would remain a memorable day in the history of media events in Nigeria, The Sun Publishing Limited held its 18th edition of the annual The Sun Awards.
The ceremony is indisputably adjudged the biggest media event in Nigeria.
On this edition, the leading media house honoured 24 outstanding Nigerians, for remarkably distinguishing themselves in their various fields of endeavours even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the world in 2020.
Though the red carpet was billed to kick off at 5:00p.m, guests from across Nigeria and beyond started coming in trickles into the Eko Expo Convention Centre, Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, the venue of the prestigious ceremony.
The tables for 10 and chairs were skillfully arranged and decorated in red and white. They all radiated beauty, panache, fun and elegance. Many would easily acknowledge that each table was alluringly tempting and inviting.
From noon, roads to Victoria Island, Lagos were busier than usual as guests poured into the premises of Eko Hotels & Suites, the venue of the prestigious ceremony. From across the length and breadth of Nigeria, even beyond, dignitaries emptied into the venue.
The exotics cars, Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) that occupied all the parking lots of the hotel were a loud statement that something unusual was happening in Lagos.
From trickles, it became a huge crowd just before 5:30p.m. It took the frantic and extraordinary efforts of the broad-chested bouncers mounting the entrance to the venue to maintain a relative level of decorum.
No doubt, the event was a classic one by all definitions. It exuded finesse, glitz and glamour. Guests, who were elegantly dressed in various attires and looking splendid, were carefully ushered into the elaborate hall.
The illumination that intermittently filled the stage marvelled all. A look up to the roof dazzled one with lights like a galaxy of stars; it was a beauty to behold. The stage was just on fire, radiating everything about the beauty of The Sun as the “Voice of the Nation.”
At exactly 7:44p.m, the night of recognition of excellence was properly kick-started with the country’s national anthem. The master of ceremony (MC), an iconic on-air personality, actor and comedian, Gbenga Adeyinka, set the stage rolling.
It was a night that The Sun shone on brightly on the awardees for displaying excellence even when it was most inconvenient.
The cream of the Nigerian society, including top politicians, economic titans, media bigwigs, traditional rulers, and entertainers as well as other distinguished people from all walks of life, filled the expansive hall. Indeed, the calibre of the personalities and guests in attendance redefined the annual show and elevated the event above the usual social gala.
Governors, state and federal legislators, politicians across parties, captains of industry, business moguls, and academics, among others, were in attendance.
Those who have been keenly following the annual awards said that the choice of the magnificent hall suggests the size and stature of the event, which they acknowledged has continued to be improved upon with every passing edition. The crowd was huge.
Setting the tone of the event was the Managing Director/ Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, who said that the gathering was that of celebration.
He said that the awardees were Nigerians who excelled when success appeared impossible. He added that the 24 award winners were made of sterner stuff.
“We are not exaggerating. They are resourceful, dogged, resilient, strategic and focused. They could pass for conquerors of COVID-19, having excelled in their respective endeavours at such difficult time,” Ukeh said.
The chairman of the occasion, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, who was represented by the Minister of Sports and Youths Development, Sunday Dare, described the award ceremony as getting better every year.
The night was not only restricted to speeches, handing out awards and honours to those who deserved them. There was equally a lot of fun that will remain indelible with those who attended.
While the seated guests were waiting for the event to officially begin, the Shuga Band crew sang their hearts out. Singing soul-lifting songs with uncommon passion and exactness, the band members set the award winners and guests in the right mood, making it an evening to remember for a very long time.
One of Africa’s finest musicians, Kingsley Chinweike Okonkwo popularly known as Kcee, didn’t disappoint the audience as he dished out scintillating tunes that kept the audience cheering.
Responding spontaneously to the indescribable energy, speed and accuracy of the music icon, the audience couldn’t resist jumping to their feet to turn every space in the hall to a dance floor.
Those honoured with various awards are: Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Mallam Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (Man of the Year); Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State and Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State (Governor of the Year); Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State (Political Icon); and Comrade Philip Shaibu, Deputy Governor of Edo State (Sports Personality).
Other winners are Chief (Mrs) Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, First Lady, Ondo State (Most Supportive First Lady); Allen Onyema, chairman, Air Peace and Dr. Adedeji Adeleke (Exceptional Philanthropist); Brig Gen Mohammed Buba Marwa (retd), chairman, National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency; Brig-Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim, Director General, National Yours Service Corps (NYSC) and Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Chinedum Orji (Public Service); Engr. Nnamdi Ezigbo, chairman, SLOT Systems Limited and Dr ABC Orjiako, chairman, SEPLAT Petroleum Company Ltd (Entrepreneur of the Year); Alhaji Mustapha Ado, chairman, Ammasco International Ltd and Chief Ebuka Onunkwo, chairman, Seahorse Lubricant Industries Limited (Industrialist of the Year).
Also honoured are Kanayo O. Kanayo, star actor and producer (Nollywood Icon); Obinna Iyiegbu (Obi Cubana), chairman, Cubana Group (Hospitality Icon); Mr Moses Ekpo, Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Olabode George, Prof. George Obiozor, President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide and Amb. Babagana Kingibe, former SGF (Lifetime Achievement); Chief Frank Okafor, chairman of Marco Polo Group Limited and Prince Chris Igwe, chairman, Mainland Oil Limited (Investor of the Year).
Though the event might have come and gone, with the fun and excitement of the 2021 The Sun Awards, will continue to linger till the next ceremony next year.
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