By OBINNA EZUGWU
Mr U.K. Eke, MFR, Group Managing Director of FBN Holdings; Nigeria’s former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim; Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Governor of Nasarawa State, Engineer Abdullahi Sule; Hon. Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunimbe Mamora; Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari, among other notable Nigerians have emerged winners, in various categories, of the 2020 edition of the prestigious Zik Prize in Leadership Awards, instituted in honour of Nigeria’s first president and African statesman, late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.
Also listed as recipients of the year’s are such other prominent personalities as Dr. Akinwunmi Ayodeji Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group; Her Excellency, Mrs Ekaette Unoma Akpabio, former First Lady of Akwa Ibom State; Mr. Uche Orji, pioneer MD/CEO, of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and Dr. Bashir Jamoh, Director General and CEO of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Announcing the winners on behalf the Board of Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC), organisers of the award scheme, at a virtual press conference on Wednesday, Professor Pat. Utomi, chairman of the selection committee, said the winners were chosen after a rigorous review process by the board.
Prof. Utomi said since the institution of the award scheme in 1995, it has held consistently, annually and has now evolved to become one of Africa’s most respected award schemes.
He gave credit to Board members who over these years have, according to him, shown uncommon zeal and commitment to building and encouraging true leadership across the face of the continent.
Utomi also used the occasion to mourn the death of one of the past winners of the award, an accomplished industrialist and notable philanthropist, Alhaji Abdulazeez Chivuzor Ude, who passed away last week, as well as the late ace bureaucrat, Alhaji Ahmed Joda and Professor Ayo Ibidapo-Obe, both of whom also passed away recently.
“Much as it gives me great pleasure addressing you this morning as we set out to formally unveil winners of the Year 2020 Zik Prize in Leadership Awards, it saddens me to also recall the passage, only recently, of a member of the Advisory Board for the Zik Prize in Leadership, Alhaji Abdulazeez Ude,” Utomi said.
“A great man, a rare breed, a true leader and himself, a recipient of the Zik Prize in Leadership during the inaugural edition, it is incontrovertible that this country has lost a gem.
“The year also saw the demise of some other past recipients of the Zik Prize. They are Alhaji Ahmed Joda OFR, CON, CFR and Professor Ayo Ibidapo-Obe OFR. We commiserate with the families of the deceased and pray that God grant them the fortitude to bear these painful losses.”
“On a more positive note, I am delighted to inform you that since 1995 when The Zik Prize in Leadership Award scheme started. A cursory look across our continent shows that the issue of leadership remains a critical challenge in our body polity.
We fully understand this and thus remain committed to this noble venture of encouraging and nurturing the most beneficial leadership that can be found on the continent as an embodiment of the leadership values of the Great Zik of Africa in whose honour this award was instituted.”
Unveiling the Awardees
Anyim Pius Anyim:
Utomi who gave brief profile of the awardees and the categories won, said Senator Anyim, a lawyer, politician and former senate president and Secretary to the Government of the Federation emerged winner of Year 2020 Zik Prize in Political Leadership.
Anyim, he said, is an accomplished lawmaker who first came to political prominence in 1998 when at 37 he won election as a Senator under the United Nigeria Congress Party.
“When that process was aborted, he returned to the same Senate in 1999, and was in August 2000 to be elected Senate President, the youngest in Nigeria’s history.
“Anyim could easily be credited with laying the foundation of the operational structure and frame of the National Assembly. He remains a treasure trove of service and experience. He is recognized for his many years of service and commitment to forging a greater Nigerian ideal.”
Senator Olorunimbe Mamora:
A medical practitioner and an activist politician, Utomi said the minister, has since venturing into politics in the early 90’s as a delegate of the National Republican Convention, NRC, never looked back.
“He was Speaker of the 4th Lagos House of Assembly in 1999 and was elected Senator in 2003 where he served meritoriously in various committees for two terms. He was once described as master of parliamentary procedures in the senate,” he said.
“A founding member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Mamora has a very wide and diverse experience in the political arena and has a history of undying commitment to the entrenchment of democratic ideals in the polity. He currently serves as Minister of State for Health.
Dr Akinwunmi Adesina:
Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group, emerged winner of the year’s Zik Prize in Public Service. A First Class class scholar and bold reformer, Utomi said, he continues to set new benchmarks in public service.
“As Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, the innovative electronic wallet system that he introduced ended 40 years of corruption in the fertiliser sector. The High 5s and the Africa Investment Forum initiatives that he has introduced as AFDB President have been a massive success.”
Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari:
Mallam Kyari, NNPC GMD, emerged co-winner of the year’s Zik Prize in Public Service on account of his resounding successes in relation to Upstream, Downstream and Gas development initiatives, as well as the increased levels of transparency and accountability of the NNPC under his watch has earned him recognition globally.
According to Utomi, “In just over two years as GMD, he has led the NNPC to publicly declare its accounts, the first in the corporation’s 43 year history.”
Dr. Bashir Jamoh:
Also named winner in the Public Service category is NIMASA DG, Jamoh, a consummate administrator, writer and maritime expert, who has extensively managed the restructuring, reformation and repositioning of the agency.
“The Deep Blue waterways safety Project and the Blue Economy initiatives that he continues to champion have brought massive gains to the Agency and the nation’s economic diversification goals,” Utomi said in a statement.
Mr. U.K. Eke, MFR, Group Managing Director of FBN Holdings Plc, is named winner of the Year 2020 Zik Prize in Professional Leadership in tribute to his strides in the banking industry.
A consummate Banker with close to 4 decades experience in Financial Services, Audit and Capital Market operations across various financial institutions, he is credited with helping develop First Bank businesses within the Public Sector, Retail and Private Banking Groups.
According to the PPRAC Board, Eke is being celebrated for his unblemished record of service and enormous contributions to the development and growth of the African Financial services industry.
Mr. Uche Orji:
Mr. Orji, pioneer MD/CEO, of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), is a co-winner of the Professional Leadership category.
A celebrated investment banking expert, he has built NSIA into one of Africa’s most respected SWFs. Since 2012, he has consistently led the institution to set a year-on-year track record of profitability, wealth creation and investments in key sectors of the economy, thereby driving sustained economic development.
Her Excellency, Mrs. Ekaette Unoma Akpabio:
Mrs. Akpabio, former 1st lady of Akwa Ibom State and Chairperson of The Family Life Enhancement Initiative (FLEI), won the year’s Zik Prize in Humanitarian Leadership in recognition of her service to humanity.
Prof. Utomi said Mrs. Akpabio was selected by the board after a rigorous review process, noting that the former First Lady, as Chairperson of FLEI, has continued to use the initiative to provide succour to the vulnerable in Akwa Ibom state.
According to him, “Since its establishment in 2008 and to date, the initiative has remained committed to its primary objective of uplifting the welfare and economic status of women, children and the underprivileged especially the provision of homes to widows and the homeless.”
Gov. Babajide Sanwo-olu:
Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos State, was named winner of the Year 2020 Zik Prize in Good Governance for his great strides in infrastructural development.
Describing the governor as “an enigma,” Utomi said in just two years, he has quietly brought back Lagos state as the Centre of Excellence. “The multi-sectoral achievements of his administration has revealed a very strong commitment on his part to transform Lagos into a Mega City using the THEMES developmental agenda,” he said.
‘His management of the Covid-19 pandemic with Lagos as the epicentre has further endeared him to Nigerians. It is very clear that the nation would yet hear more from this astute administrator and indisputable achiever going forward.”
Gov. Abdullahi Sule:
Another winner in the same category as the Lagos governor, is his his Nasarawa State counterpart, Abdullahi Sule. An entrepreneur and businessman, Gov. Sule, Utomi said, “has brought his entrepreneurial skills to bear on governance. Little wonder that in record time, he has come out as one of the most accomplished governors in the federation today.
“He has brought his wealth of experience to bear in addressing the issues of governance. His giant strides and provision of a Human face to governance are indeed quite visible to all. In spite of the difficult terrain of the state at the moment, it is indeed a marvel that so much is yet being done in notably, infrastructural development and Healthcare.”