Neya Kalu, Sun Chairman/Publisher, Onuoha Ukeh, MD/EiC praise winners


By Henry Umahi


It will be impossible to forget in a hurry the night resourcefulness was celebrated. In terms of content and character, The Sun Awards is in a class of its own. It is a dominant media, entertainment and networking brand in Africa.

Salute to resourcefulness, which is the theme of the 21th edition of The Sun Awards, paraded Nigerians: men and women, old and young, who despite the odds pushed the envelope and recorded remarkable achievements in their various areas of endeavours. Indeed, the awardees were a collection of resourceful individuals, who, in local parlance, “no gree for anybody or situation” to deter them.

It was a night of glamour, splendour and radiance as top dignitaries gathered at the Expo Convention Centre, Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, to be celebrated or to be part of history.

It was a night to remember in every material particular. The Sun was on the same page with Paul J. Meyer, who said: “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” 

Over the years, The Sun Awards has continued to setting the pace in terms of class and caliber of guests that gather under the same roof. It has become a platform to celebrate Nigeria’s finest.

At yesterday’s event, Nigerians, again, showed that they have carved a niche for themselves in the fashion world. Their fabrics and styles spoke volumes about their ingenuity, sophistication and creativity.

Many looked stunning in their exquisitely-designed attires that define the country’s rich cultural heritage and diversity. Even those who chose the cosmopolitan costume did that with panache.

How can anyone forget the royal touch to the event? Some royal fathers adorned fabrics of inestimable value even as others looked stylish in simplicity. However, the royal regalia depicted power and authority.

For example, the Oni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, showed that a monarch can be fashionable and trendy. The traditional ruler’s simplicity and humility have endeared him to many Nigerians, yet no one can take for granted his influence. He entered the arena with fanfare.

The hall was exquisitely decorated in red and white colours with bouquets of beautiful flowers. The stage had a touch of magic. And The Sun’s touch of hospitality was evident as the various tables were decorated with exotic wines and small chops. A sumptuous buffet was part of the bargain.

From all over the country, they came. Some even arrived from abroad. While some were at the event to adorn the glittering crowns on their worthy heads, others came to give support, to be part of history.

Blazing in full glory, The Sun hosted captains of industry, boardroom gurus, political bigwigs, the diplomatic community, business moguls, policy makers, entertainment impresarios, media icons, actors, actresses and models. It was a good ground for politicians from various political divides to exchange pleasantries and jokes.

The highly-anticipated event dripped finesse and majestic splendour. It’s like wine, getting better.

From 6:00p.m, the red carpet became active as all manner of cars glided into the venue of the event. The movers and shakers of the society decked in different designer stuffs, walked in confidently to the admiration of many. Some of them looked like a ton of cash. Indeed, many twinkled like Hollywood stars. A whiff of perfumes enveloped the arena.

Sensational female singer, songwriter and actress, Jennifer Eliogu, thrilled the audience at the event.

Iconic events host and filmmaker, Frank Edoho, was the compere at the event.

Edoho of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” fame returned to The Sun Awards with panache and held the audience spellbound with his arresting voice.

Also, beautiful and smart models adorning custom-made “adire” by Adire Oodua Textile Training Hub in Ile Ife serenaded the audience at the event as they rocked the red carpet and walkway.

Thirty-four Nigerians received various awards on the night. They are Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President, Dangote Group; Mr. Tony Elumelu, Chairman, Heirs Holdings and Chief Innocent Chukwuma, Chairman, Innoson Motor Vehicle Manufacturing Limited (Man of the Year). Governors Peter Mbah of Enugu State, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State and Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State are Governor of the Year. Pa Ayo Adebanjo, Prof. Awa Kalu, and Rev. Uma Ukpai received Lifetime Achievement Award). Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ooni of Ife and HRM Ogiame Atuwatse III, Olu of Warri (Most Impactful Royal Father).

Others are Amb. Olufolake Abdulrazaq, wife of the Kwara State Governor and Founder, Ajike People Support Centre (First Lady of the Year); Chief Kenneth Ifekudu (Agbalanze), Chairman, Diamond Leeds Ltd and Chief Peter Oge Obih, Chairman, Sea Map Group of Companies, and Dr. Ifeanyi Nwachukwu, CEO of Richland Properties and Homes Limited (Businessman of the Year); High Chief Christopher Ndubuisi, Chairman, Pinnatech Engineering Nigeria Limited; Dr. Oludare Akande, Chairman, Bellagio Airlines Limited and Dr. Jayne Onwumere, MD, Property World Africa Network (PWAN) Group (Investor of the Year); Dr. Uche Ogah, President, Masters Energy Group; Chief Celestine Ebubeogu, Chairman, Tiger Foods and Chief James Uzuh, Chairman, Jumac Industries Ltd (Industrialist of the Year); Chief Ikenna Okafor, Chairman, Kevs Global Leasing Ltd; Lady Adaora Umeoji, DMD, Zenith Bank Plc and Archbishop Dr. Emeka Agwu, President, Voice of Evangelism International Houston, Texas, USA (Humanitarian Service Icon); and Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo), Chairman, Tantita Security Services (Courage in Leadership Award).

Other award winners are, Mr. Robert Azibaola, Founder, Zeetin Engineering Limited; Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, CEO, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission and Mr. Charles Odii, DG, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) (Public Service Award); Moruf Oseni, MD/CEO, Wema Bank and Mr. Femi Bakre, Managing Director, Parallex Bank (Banker of the Year); Lady Ngozi Ezeonu and Tobi Bakre (Nollywood Icon of the Year).

In her welcome, the Chairman of The Sun Publishing Ltd, Neya Uzor-Kalu, a lawyer, said: “It is truly an honour to stand before you tonight. Six years ago I was unaware that a succession plan was in motion. I had always been asked by the former Chairman, my father, to represent him at these awards.

“In 2022, I was announced as the Chairman and the Publisher of The Sun Newspaper. This came as a surprise and I was excited about the next phase of my life and the business as a whole. I’m telling you this story because I believe that representation in all of its senses matters.

“It matters to me that my father trusted a young lady to occupy such a significant office. It matters to him that he is empowering a youth to occupy the said office. I say all of this to say that you all are a direct representation of people’s dreams, and aspirations.

“The Sun Awards was set up to acknowledge people’s goals and achievements. But it also acknowledges the good that has come out of these representations. Our world is evolving at an unprecedented pace, and with that comes the recognition that our institutions, organisations, and leadership structures must also evolve.

“Tonight, I want to emphasise the critical importance of representation, particularly the need for more young voices in positions of influence and decision-making. Youth is not just the future, it is the present. However, simply having youths in positions of authority is not enough. The bridge between generations is strengthened through guidance and mentorship. This isn’t just a ceremony, it’s a declaration to recommit oneself to fostering an environment where the flame of leadership is passed from one generation to the next.

“Tonight, we raise a toast not just to the recipients, but to the potential and the fire you all represent in this room. Cheers to you, the change makers, the dreamers, the future! May your success inspire the leaders of tomorrow!”

Also, speaking, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Newspapers, Mr Onuoha Ukeh, recalled that in the midst of challenges facing the country, “there were Nigerians who weathered the storm and stand tall today to be counted. They were resilient, determined, and courageous to confront obstacles and to succeed. They used their ingenuity very well and made astonishing successes in their various fields. They are a toast to resourcefulness.

“We are here to celebrate and honour them. We are here to tell a success story, to the effect that with the excellent use of our human and capital resources, something good will come out of Nigeria.”