•Pays tribute to ex-MDs of The Sun

Tonight, we are celebrating the 20th edition of The Sun Awards. We are celebrating two decades of engaging in a serious and exciting process of selecting exceptional Nigerians and honouring them. From 2003 to date, The Sun Awards have become a dominant media event through which people who have contributed immensely to the development of Nigeria are recognised. The Sun Awards graduated from a low-key sole recognition of Man of the Year, in 2003, to this colourful and elaborate multi-awards celebration of today.

From that humble beginning, as a planted mustard seed, The Sun Awards have grown to an Oak tree, becoming bigger every year. This was made possible by The Sun staff who dreamt big and made things happen. Tonight, I pay tribute to my bosses and former Managing Directors/Editors-in-Chief of The Sun. I pay tribute to Mr. Mike Awoyinfa,  the late Mr. Dimgba Igwe, Dr. Tony Onyima, Mr. Femi Adesina and Mr. Eric Osagie. They lighted The Sun Awards torch, held it firmly, not allowing it to dim and passing it until it got to our hands. I also pay tribute to the founder of The Sun Publishing Limited, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, for providing the platform upon which the candle was lighted. I doff my hat to Mr, Iyke Ekeoma, who works behind the scene, dealing with the technical aspect of the awards, as the unsung hero. These are great men, who, working with all of us, transformed a dream to reality.

We are here tonight to celebrate 26 Nigerians, who have proved that things work in the country. Despite the challenges the country faces, these Nigerians have done a race, kept the faith, and won the diadems. They braved the odds, surmounted obstacles and snatched success from the jaw of the tiger. By their successes and accomplishments, they told a good Nigerian story, to the effect that there are great potentials in the country. They have made Nigeria proud.

We call them Pride of the Nation. They are Pride of the Nation because they have done extraordinary things that benefited the majority in Nigerian. From governance to business, public service to entrepreneurship, hospitality to entertainment, these Nigerians have done well and have given hope for a better Nigeria.

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Nigerians are doing great things all over the world. Events have shown that many Nigerians in the Diaspora are at the top of their careers and dominate their industries. In these places, they are forces to be reckoned with, well respected and sought after because of their invaluable contributions to society. These are our countrymen and women who are achieving success in other climes, in such areas as medicine, science, technology, sports and even the military of other countries. They excel in environments where things are working better.

The exceptional achievements of Nigerians in the Diaspora and the awardees who would mount the podium to be honoured tonight clearly tell us that Nigerians would always excel in excellent environments. We need such excellent environments here. This is why the coming elections in Nigeria are critical. It is an opportunity for us as a people to elect a leadership which has the capacity to change the trajectory, which would bring about hope, restore confidence, ensure unity and security, entrench transparency, fairness, justice, build strong institutions and ready to evolve policies and programme that would bring out the best in Nigerians and engender development.

The Sun Awards 2022 is coming at an auspicious time. It is the 20th anniversary of The Sun Awards. It is coming in a year that The Sun, as a publishing and entertainment company, is 20. It is coming in a year that The Sun is going to unveil a book on Nigeria, titled “Making of Modern Nigeria,” a book that elegantly sketched the metamorphosis of Nigeria, from a colonised territory, to independence and now the Giant of Africa. The book is a sequel to the Golden Book The Sun earlier published to commemorate Nigeria’s 50th anniversay. It is The Sun’s contribution to scholarship, at a time when History is coming back in our schools’ curriculum, in collaboration with Compact Communications Limited and Bridgehead Communications Limited.

Tonight’s celebration promises to be thrilling.