Hallmark Awards 2020 recipients
L-R: Malami, Wike, Ekeh, Sen Akpan, Okonkwo, Ihekweazu, Usman, Abayomi, Ozigbo, Agbo, Okoroafor, Keystone Bank MD, Heritage Bank MD.

By OBINNA EZUGWU

BusinessHallmark Newspaper, one of Nigeria’s foremost business and financial information providers, has named the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN); Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike; e-commerce startup, Konga; Fidelity Bank MD, Nnamdi Okonkwo, as well as Heritage Bank Plc, among others, winners in the 2020 edition of its prestigious People of the Year Award scheduled to hold on Sunday, November 22 at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The event will be chaired by Nigeria’s former Senate President and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim.

The award is part of the weekly newspaper’s concept of honouring outstanding individuals and corporate organisations that have affected the Nigerian economy and polity in productive ways.

Other notable individuals and corporations on the list of awardees include former Transcorp MD and leading governorship aspirant for Anambra governorship, Valentine Chineto Ozigbo; Outgoing director, corporate communications at the Central Bank of Nigeria, Isaac Okoroafor; Senator Dahiru Aishatu Ahmed; BB Apugo, Hon. Ottah Francis Agbo, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe; Keystone Bank Limited; DG, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu; NPA DG, Hadiza Bala Usman and Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi.

In a letter to the awardees by Akogun (Dr) Tola Adeniyi, member of Business Hallmark Editorial Advisory Board, and Co-Chair of its Public Policy Forum, the newspaper praised them for their notable contributions to the nation building in their various areas of endeavours.

Wike named Man of the Year

Rivers governor, Nyesom Wike emerged Man of the Year, becoming the first governor to take the award.

In a letter to the governor, Akogun Adeniyi said, “Your choice was not only informed by your remarkable successes in Rivers state, but mostly for your inspirational evolution as the poster card of true democracy in Nigeria.

“We recall the immense challenges which confronted your administration at its inception, ranging from insecurity, poor infrastructure and an insipid business environment etc. It is note- worthy that your Excellency has responded creatively to these challenges.

“Findings by our team of editors reveal that there is hardly any facet of life which your government has neglected. Most remarkably, your Excellency has remained steadfast and committed to the ethos of good governance, despite the overwhelming and sometimes contrived challenges. Our Board had no hesitation therefore, in selecting you for this well merited honour.

“You have emerged by sheer force of personality, charismatic political leadership and overarching commitment to justice, as the poster card for democracy and good governance in our country. Your dogged pursuit of these ideals have elevated you to the status of an icon. It is not surprising that many people now see you as a positive force for good in our country.

“It is in order to celebrate these rare qualities and hold you up as a model, especially for the younger generation, that our Advisory Board unanimously voted you for this award.”

Malami takes Public Servant of the Year accolade

Akogun Adeniyi in a letter to Malami who was named Public Servant of the Year, said his choice is in recognition of his outstanding achievements as the Chief Law Officer of the Nation, especially in the effective repositioning of the Federal Ministry of Justice as a critical tool in the milestone achievements of this administration.

“Your steadfastness and uncommon commitment to the Nigerian people have seen the emergence of a host of creative initiatives such as the National Judicial Policy, Law reform initiatives, NACSF etc that has ensured that the Judiciary is proactive in the discharge of its functions,” the letter said.

“We laud the recent success of the Nigerian State in the U.K court over the fraudulent P&ID gas deal and are enamored by your insistence on standing on the path of justice in the face of heavy odds. Your actions have earned the respect and admiration of many including this newspaper We are therefore pleased to select you for this well-deserved honour.”

Nnamdi Okonkwo emerges Banker of the Year

Fidelity Bank CEO, Nnamdi Okonkwo took the Banker of the Year accolade for his strides as leader of emerging big player in the country’s banking industry.

His choice, Adeniyi said in a letter to him, “is in recognition of the consistent performance of the management team of Fidelity Bank Plc in setting a track record of sustained growth, profitability and wealth creation across its operations.

“It is remarkable, that despite the prevailing global economic challenges and the ravaging viral pandemic, you have successfully repositioned the bank as a thriving financial services organization, earning numerous recognitions nationally and internationally.

“Our editorial Board was particularly impressed by the sterling performance of the bank in the retail market segment and on its digital platforms. The unprecedented growth achieved in these sectors since the inception of your management team, showcases a leadership that has both been strategic and creative. Your consistent promotion of entrepreneurship and investments in the MSME value chain can rightly be argued to have catalyzed action in Nigeria’s economic growth and recovery. We also note with admiration, your successes in creating innovative financial products which have massively supported financial inclusion.

“Six years ago, when you mounted the saddle asthe new team lead and a few years later launched the ambitious plan to be a tier 1 bank, there was a lot of skepticism. But with the consistency of performance and latest results showing double digit growth figures year-on-year, we admit that the bank is well on course to achieving this feat.”

Leo Stan Ekeh’s Konga named Company of the Year

Konga, a leading e-commerce startup emerged Company of the Year.

The newspaper in a letter to its promoter, Leo Stan Ekeh, said “the choice is in recognition of the ground breaking feats achieved by the company in the year under review. Konga has despite all odds, become the market leader and fastest growing E-Commerce company in the African region.

“Our Editorial Board was particularly impressed by your investments in Technology and infrastructure. Your creative business models have continued to set operational milestones that has placed Konga at the apex of the industry.

“Your leadership role in the industry has earned the respect and admiration of many including this newspaper. We are therefore pleased to select Konga for this well-deserved honour.”

Isaac Okoroafor takes Professional Excellence in Corporate Communications Award

Outgoing Director of Corporate Communications at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, was named winner of the Professional Excellence in Corporate Communications Accolade.

The choice, according to the newspaper, “is in recognition of your contributions to the development of the Corporate Communication industry in Nigeria.

“As a consummate professional, you have continued to set milestones in stakeholder communication management. We note with admiration, your successes in managing the complexities of the Central Bank of Nigeria brand, at a period its policy interventions have often been a subject of intense review.

“It gives us special satisfaction therefore to celebrate you. Your successes are inspirational and it is commonly accepted that given your performances, you have earned your stripes within the industry and beyond.

BB Apugo, Senator Akpanudoedehe named winners of Outstanding Political Leadership Award

Elder statesman and chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Prince B.B. Apugo and ex Akwa Ibom State Senator, John James Akpanudoedehe emerged co-winners of Outstanding Political Leadership Award.

The choice of the Abia State born politician, according to a letter addressed to him by Akogun Adeniyi, was informed by his immense contributions to the growth of Nigeria’s democracy.

“We are pleased to inform you that the Editorial Board of our newspaper has voted you as winner of its Year 2020 Outstanding Political Leadership Award. The award is in recognition of the important roles you have played in the growth of democracy, and crusade for governance in our country,” the letter read in part.

“We recall vividly your leading contributions to the success of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the late 70s. With the return of democracy in 1999, you emerged one of the founding fathers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It is also noteworthy that you became one of the prime movers of the coalition that birthed the All Progressive Congress (APC) and ensured its historic victory at the polls.

“Indeed, you have been at the crucible of all major political movements in our country in the last forty years. Your dogged pursuit of good governance, honour and integrity in government, and insistence on politics as a means of serving the people rather than self-interest, have marked you out as a man of principle who is worthy of emulation.”

Chief Adeniyi said Apugo has “remained consistently outspoken against ineptitude and corruption in government, often at great personal cost.”

Similarly, the choice of Akpanudoedehe, Adeniyi said is in recognition of his impeccable qualities as a political leader and the important roles he played in the sustenance of democracy and good governance in Nigeria.

Akpanudoedehe, Adeniyi said, “has been an active participant at the grassroots and involved with all major political movements for solidification of our country in the last three decades.”

Senator Dahiru Ahmed named winner of Outstanding Community Service Award

Adamawa State senator, Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed, will take home the year’s Outstanding Community Service award in recognition of the various humanitarian and community intervention and advocacy projects she has consistently embarked upon for the upliftment of indigents and the less privileged in Adamawa State.

“We note with particular emphasis the succor your humanitarian and educational intervention projects have brought to families, homes and entire communities that have hitherto lost all sense of belonging,” the newspaper said in a letter to the senator.

“These initiatives amongst other intervention projects, have brought back a sense of human dignity, pride in labour and joy to various homes. We appreciate your courage and determination to ensure that Indigenes live a better life. You are a worthy role model that have earned the respect and admiration of many including this newspaper. We are therefore pleased to select you for this well- deserved honour.”

NPA named Parastatal of the Year

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) emerged Parastatal of the Year in recognition of the successful re-positioning of the agency as a leading Port service operator in Africa.

In a letter to Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, the NPA Managing Director, the newspaper said the “agency has become a beacon of accountability and transparency and has emerged as the poster parastatal of this administration. NPA has become a shining star that has earned the respect and admiration of many including this newspaper.

“Our Editorial Board was particularly impressed by the investments in technology and infrastructure that has catalyzed the agency’s operational efficiency. The entrenchment of Standard Operating Procedures has substantially strengthened due process and has now built NPA into a resilient institution.”

Prof Abayomi, Dr. Ihekweazu honoured as Outstanding Achievers

Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi and Director General of Nigeria Centre of Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, emerged co-winners of the year’s Outstanding Achievement Award for their pragmatic leadership in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.

In a letter to Abayomi by Akogun Adeniyi, the newspaper said, “We recall your proactive policy interventions and engagements with the citizenry of the state. These interventions saved the state and country from what would have otherwise been a harrowing experience from this biological crisis.

“We also recognize the milestones the Ministry continues to attain as well as the critical role she continues to play in our public health space as a key component of economic transformation in the state. We appreciate your legacies that have earned the respect and admiration of many including this newspaper. We are therefore pleased to select you for this well-deserved honour.”

In a similar letter to Ihekweazu, the newspaper said, “Your professionalism and leadership acumen in leading the fight against infectious diseases and the novel Covid-19 pandemic has brought succor to the nation and your conduct has at the very least, been exemplary.

“We recall your proactive policy interventions and engagements with the citizenry especially establishing the requisite protocols, the race against time to ramp up testing as well as the decentralization of test centres. These interventions saved the country from what would have been a harrowing experience from this biological crisis.

“We also recognize the milestones the agency continues to attain as well as the critical role she plays in our public health space as a key component of economic transformation. Your leadership role in this regard has earned the respect and admiration of many including this newspaper. We are therefore pleased to select you for this well-deserved honour.”

Heritage, Keystone banks shine with special products award for MSME support

Nigeria’s lenders, Heritage Bank Plc and Keystone Bank Limited, were named winners of Special Products Award for their support for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.

The newspaper said the banks have consistently and innovatively developed initiatives supporting the MSME ecosystem thereby ensuring growth and continued investments into the sector.

In a letter to Heritage Bank, the newspaper noted, “Our editorial Board was particularly impressed by your steadfast commitment to the provision of interventions across entire MSME value chains despite the associated risks of the sector. These initiatives have catalyzed the geometric contributions of MSME’s to our economic development as well as the socio-economic well-being of the citizenry. We are therefore pleased to select Heritage Bank for this well-deserved honour.”

Similarly, in a letter to Keystone, the board said,”The choice is in recognition of your outstanding support for the development of the Agricultural Value Chain of the Nigerian economy.

“Your ongoing Agricultural services programme across the country and your extensive participation in various intervention initiatives such as the Anchor Borrowers programme and the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is commendable. It has provided the much-needed fulcrum for investments into this critical sector of the economy.

“Our editorial Board was particularly impressed by your steadfast commitment to the provision of these real sector intervention services. We are enamored by your contribution to the rapid diversification of the economy and the socio-economic development of the country. We are therefore very pleased to select Keystone Bank for this well-deserved honour.”

Dr Francis Agbo named Lawmaker of the Year

Hon Dr. Ottah Francis Agbo, member representing Ado/Ogbadigbo/Okpokwu constituency of Benue State in the 9th House of Representatives, emerged Lawmaker of the Year.

The choice, the newspaper said, “is in recognition of your noble role in staying true to your call to National service. You have remained courageous and have consistently towed the path of Honour in the discharge of your mandate.

“We are enamoured by your integrity, forthrightness and advocacy on various topical issues nationally and internationally. The effortless discharge of your functions and parliamentary disposition portrays a lawmaker intent on the centrality of the legislature in the entrenchment of democratic governance in our country. Your disposition has earned you the respect and admiration of many, including this newspaper. We are therefore pleased to select you for this well-deserved honour.”

The award will be presented at an elaborate dinner on Sunday November 22, 2020 at the Civic Centre, Ozumba Mbadiwe Street ,Victoria Island, Lagos, beginning from 6pm.