Winners of the 2020 edition of the prestigious Zik Prize Awards, were on Sunday, in a well attended ceremony held at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, presented with the awards.
Among those honoured at the event are Nigeria’s former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, who won Year 2020 Zik Prize in Public Service; Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who emerged winner of Zik Prize in Good Governance, alongside his Nasarawa State counterpart, Engineer Abdullahi Sule.
Hon. Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunimbe Mamora, was presented with the Zik Prize in Political Leadership, while Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kolo Kyari, received Zik Prize in Public Service.
Other recipients of the award are: Mr U.K. Eke, MFR, Group Managing Director of FBN Holdings, winner of Zik Prize in Professional Leadership; Her Excellency, Mrs Ekaette Unoma Akpabio, Former First Lady of Akwa Ibom State, winner of Zik Prize in Humanitarian Leadership; Mr. Uche Orji, pioneer MD/CEO, of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Co winner of the 2020 Zik Prize in Professional Leadership; Dr Bashir Jamoh, Director General and CEO of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Co winner of the year’s Zik Prize in Public Service.
Delivering his opening remarks at the event, Sir Marc Wabara, member of the Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC), organizers of the award, recalled that the Zik Prize in Leadership Award scheme, was established in 1995, and has now evolved to become one of Africa’s most respected award schemes.
The ceremony witnessed presentations from Emir of Kano, His Highness Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, Royal Father of the Day, who described the Late Nnamdi Azikiwe, in whose honour the award was instituted, as a worthy African statesman, while calling on the recipients of the award to continue to emulate his virtues.
Prof Anya O. Anya, Chairman of the Awards, noted that the scheme has come a long way, and called for its institutionalisation in the country.
The awardees in their respective remarks, expressed delight at being considered for the honour.
Anyim in his speech, noted that being associated with Zik, whom he said, exemplified principled and committed leadership, is an honour to any Nigerian.
“To be associated with the name Zik is a priceless honour to any Nigerian. The revered Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, exemplified principled, committed and focused leadership. Zik was an outstanding and charismatic leader. A passionate patriot; an unapologetic nationalist; a relentless defender of justice and an ardent believer in the unity of Nigeria. These qualities stood Zik and his fellow nationalists out as leaders who rose to the challenges of their time, who fought with all they had, liberated us from the shackles of colonialism and laid a solid foundation for a nation with every potential to be a strong and respected voice among the comity of nations. Nigeria now, more than ever before, is in urgent need of men and women who will think, act and live like Zik and his fellow nationalists. It is appropriate to always recall and honour the likes of Herbert Macaulay, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Michael Okpara, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief J.S Tarka, Chief Harold Dappa-Biriye, Alhaji Aminu Kano and the host of others,” he said.
“In memory of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, I want to acknowledge and pay special tribute to all our Leaders, both dead and living, for the huge sacrifices they made to secure for us a free and independent nation. They were guided in their actions by what was best for the citizens of Nigeria. They provided leadership that inspired their followers. They faced daunting challenges but they overcame those challenges and achieved their objectives because of their commitment to building our nation. They understood that nation building is an arduous task. It calls for sacrifices, patience, tolerance, accommodation and consensus building. We need to imbibe the spirit that guided our leaders in the past.”
Anyim decried Nigeria’s worsening economic and security challenges, noting that more than ever before, the country needs committed leadership that would rise to the challenge of the present.
“Therefore, the demand of leadership in the present-day Nigeria has become more daunting. For instance, our population has risen from about 45 million in 1960 to over 200 million in 2020. Most of that population are in the youthful bracket. Our economy has moved from the boom of the 1960s and 1970s to cycles of stunted growth and recession in the last decade. Our educational institutions have moved from the best rankings in the 1960s to mediocre positions in the 2020s,” he said.
“Our Naira has depreciated from 65 kobo to a dollar in the early 1980s to the present N568 to a dollar in 2021. Our labour market has moved from employment of choice in the 1970s to crises of underemployment and unemployment in the 2020s. In agriculture we have gone from a net exporter of food and cash crops to a nation of food insecurity and import dependence. Nigeria was founded on the principle of unity in diversity, but we are now more divided than ever in our history. Most of us will still remember when we were our brothers’ keeper, but today danger lurks at every conner, nobody is safe anywhere.
“Around the world our image has shifted from the giant of African to what some say is the poverty capital of the world.
“I will not belabour you with further reference to our national decline but I make haste to say that the leadership approach that will cope with these challenges must be beyond the usual. We need leadership that will change these challenges to a success story. Such leadership must have vision and capacity, be determined and above all be inclusive.
“Permit me to further mention that the challenges of leadership will be much more daunting as we move towards the 2nd quarter of the 21st Century (2026 – 2050) due to the effects of the 4th industrial revolution popularly known as Industry 4.0. It has been described as “the next phase of dramatic technological expansion and social change”. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum puts it this way: “The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the internet of things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, material science, energy storage and quantum computing”.
Anyim noted that, “in the years ahead, for Nigeria to survive and thrive, we must have peace at home and respect abroad. For that, we need leadership that understands the challenges, the imperatives and concomitant of the 4th Industrial Revolution.
“We need leaders that must connect and engage with the people especially the youth. Such leaders must place the youth at the center of every nation building effort in order to move them from the current valley of despair to the height of their potentials. We need leaders that can build societal consensus, repair our broken social fabrics and show deep empathy for all Nigerians that are suffering deprivation, poverty and want of any kind. Our leaders must be skilled in the science and art of good governance. They must be visionary and ready to keep pace with contemporary social, economic and technological changes. They must be pragmatic and result-driven in dealing with security, education, health and other myriad of challenges that confront our nation.”
Anyim, who had declared his intention to contest for president in 2023, restated his belief that Nigeria will turn the corner with the right leadership, while noting he has decided to offer himself to serve.
“As an individual, I am offering myself for service. I am prepared to lead the charge, so that, together with other good men and women we will lead and unite Nigeria. We will heal our wounds and prosper all our people in the years ahead.”
In his own remarks in a post after the presentation, Lagos State governor, Sanwo-Olu, noted that he accepted the award “with a greater sense of patriotism and commitment.”
According to him, “It is a thing of utmost joy and honour to win an award named after Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, an iconic nationalist and erudite statesman whose life personified service.
“I accepted the award with a greater sense of patriotism and commitment to make the people we are elected to serve the centre of our administration in terms of policy conceptualisation and implementation.
“I will spend every day in office working for the people of Lagos on whose behalf I received the Zik Prize in Good Governance.”