The Sun Man of the Year 2020 and Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has reiterated the reason driving the infrastructural development stride of his administration, saying that at the core of the effort was the desire to ensure that he bequeaths a legacy to the present and future generations.
This is as the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, commended Wike for the infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State, just as they said that governor’s statesmanship and apolitical posture were legendary.
The 2020 Sun Newspapers Award ceremony held at the Eko Hotel, Lagos, at the weekend.
Wike, who was represented the Deputy Governor of the state, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, thanked The Sun Newspapers for the honour done to him.
Receiving the award on his behalf, Banigo said the Wike administration had continued to vigorously pursue the new Rivers State vision, touching on every aspect of the state for the present and future generations.
Banigo dedicated the award to God and the people of the state.
She said that since 2015, Wike has used the NEW Rivers Vision to transform the state.
The deputy governor was accompanied by the Deputy Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Edison Ehie, and some members of the State Executive Council and some LG council chairmen.
In her opening remarks, daughter of the Publisher of The Sun Newspapers, Neya Orji Kalu, urged the Sun Awards winners to remain consistent in their individual endeavours.
Neya, who represented her father, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, commended the awardees for being singled out among millions of Nigerians for the award, saying it was a great feat.
Noting that they deserved the award, she reminded them that “to whom much is given, much is expected”, and urged them to work together and live in peace for the progress of the country.
She regretted that the award could not hold last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic that ravaged the world and brought economic hardship to many countries of the world, including Nigeria.
Neya paid tribute to all the frontline workers in the fight to contain Coronavirus, even as she called on all to remember those that were lost to the pandemic as well as those that were lost to the senseless killings in Nigeria.
Presenting the award to the governor, the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu commended Governor Nyesom Wike for the infrastructural revolution taking place in Rivers State.
“I have taken official and unguided tours of projects up to Opobo Town. It is quite amazing that Governor Wike is doing so much.
“I am a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the truth must be told that Governor Wike is doing well,” he said.
The senator also commended Wike for his courage to speak the truth to power in the country.
Kalu described Wike as “his good friend who has not allowed political differences to separate them.”
He added that Wike’s choice as The Sun Man of the Year was well-deserved.
Also speaking, the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, commended the Rivers State governor for his statesmanship and apolitical posture.
Dare recalled that Wike invited him, an APC member, to commission the Real Madrid Football Academy in Port Harcourt.
The minister stated that such posture was very good for the political development of the nation.
He described the Real Madrid Football Academy as a model for education and youth development in Africa.
Speaking in similar tone, Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shuaibu, who got the Sports Personality of the Year award, dedicated it to Governor Godwin Obaseki, who was physically present to support and felicitate with him, saying he created an enabling environment for him to thrive and excel.
“I’m very grateful to Governor Godwin Obaseki for the opportunity he gave me to serve and if he didn’t entrust the sports sector to me, this would not have happened. He gave me the wings to fly, and I am very grateful to him for it. This is a reason for me to work harder and I do not take it for granted. For us in Edo, we do not complain, we only proffer solutions and that is why things are working well the way they are,” Shuaibu said.
The Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, while receiving the Exceptional Philanthropist of the Year award, urged the Federal Government to grant amnesty to the Yoruba separatist leader, Sunday Igboho; and leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
He said he believes in the unity of Nigeria and also believes that with dialogue, the issues that have given rise to insecurity in the country can be resolved.
Onyema said if amnesty could work in the case of Niger Delta militants, it could also be used for the separatist leaders.
The First Lady of Ondo State, Betty Akeredolu, who was given the Most Supportive First Lady award for her advocacy against breast cancer and the many projects she has embarked on to help women in the state, expressed her gratitude to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu for his support, and thanked The Sun for the award.
“Thank you for finding me worthy of this award among all the first ladies. What we do is a lot of work to make sure that we make this world a better place than we found it. This work is not just me alone; I have a team that spurred me on.
“For those that follow me in doing what I have done, I want to say thank you and to also appreciate my husband because without him giving me space, I don’t think I would be here. We have made sure that vulnerable women are taken care of in Ondo State even during Covid-19 and today we have an organisation that supports widows and anyone who wants to help us can go to the website and contribute,” she said.
In his response, The Sun Entrepreneur of the Year award winner, Nnamdi Ezeigbo, expressed gratitude to The Sun management for the recognition.
He said: “I feel so honoured. I thank The Sun leadership.”
He called on the government to pay attention to entrepreneurship, saying, “It is high time government paid attention to entrepreneurship because it is the bedrock of any society. Let us build a Commonwealth for our people.
Also, winner of the Investor of the Year award, Dr. Chris Igwe, said he was grateful and highly honoured to receive the award, and thanked The Sun management for the honour.
He said the award is evidence that nothing on earth can stop a man with the right mental attitude from reaching his height in life.
“I dedicate this award to the staff and management of Mainland Oil. I thank everyone that attended this event,” he said.
In his acceptance speech, The Sun Hospitality Icon of the Year, Chief Obi Iyiegbu, popularly called Obi Cubana, expressed gratitude to God for placing him where he stands today.
He dedicated the award to his late parents and his wife who has stood by him all through, his associates and well-wishers as well as his teeming fans.
“You can see the result of our hard work. This is just the beginning; we are going to do more,” he said.
Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, who was the recipient of Political Icon of the Year, thanked The Sun for ensuring through its reportage that there is political stability in the country.
He dedicated the award to President Muhammadu Buhari.
PDP’ll Support Presidential Candidate With Capacity To Salvage Nigeria -Wike …Says, I Won’t Impose My Successor
He clarified that although the party was yet to decide whether such candidate would be from the southern or northern part of Nigeria, adding that “one thing is certain, the candidate will be one who can confront the evil tactics of All Progressives Congress (APC)”.
Speaking on African Independent Television (AIT), yesterday, Wike said the process to determine who PDP would field as its presidential candidate would be a turbulent one.
“Let nobody come and tell you that in arriving at a presidential candidate that it will be easy. No way, it can never be. You know, there are two types of turbulences. There is turbulence that will not have a crash, which is a normal turbulence. There are turbulences that there is likely to be a crash.
“Our own turbulence in PDP is the normal turbulence, which I believe we will get through it, but APC turbulence is a turbulence that is likely to lead to a crash.
“PDP has redeemed its position towards what Nigerians are expecting, because Nigerians are tired of what is going on in the country. So, they need an alternative, and the only alternative as it is today is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).”
Wike said as a firm and courageous person, who having demonstrated such selfless leadership in Rivers State, he would only support a presidential candidate who would not mortgage the party for other selfish interests.
“And so, if you want to run for presidency under PDP, I will not support somebody who’ll just want to bear the name of former presidential candidate, I will not agree to that. I must see that you are prepared for it, and to confront this evil called APC.”
Wike boasted that he feels fulfilled that PDP got it right with a peaceful conduct of its national convention that saw the emergence of a new competent National Working Committee (NWC).
He dismissed insinuations in some quarters that PDP governors had forced on an early convention because they wanted sole control of the party.
According to him, any true party man would love a PDP that is stable, focus and forward looking.
The governor maintained that already the new leadership of the PDP, waiting to be sworn-in on the December 9, 2021, have started engaging Nigerians and other party members on identifying what the problems are and how to address them properly.
Wike said Nigerians are tired of the misrule of APC and would not allow their evil to continue beyond 2023.
“Nigerians are waiting. Nigerians cannot have this type of evil come up again in 2023. We will be doing a disservice to Nigerians to allow this to continue.”
He said PDP is already aware of the antics of the APC-controlled Federal Government to ensure it holds on to power at all cost.
According to him, APC is already gearing up to deplore unconstitutional means to frustrate the conduct of a free and fair 2023 general election.
Wike expressed strong reservation on the likelihood of President MuhammaduBuhari ever assenting to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
“The president will not sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill. The signs are already there. It is dead on arrival. The president does not disappoint people.”
He stated that the seemingly disagreement between members of the national lawmakers and APC governors over the Electoral Act Amendment Bill was devised to frustrate it.
The governor wondered why the president would be seeking INEC’s advice on a law that is already passed by the National Assembly.
He asserted that issues of security and cost implication would be used eventually as reasons why presidential assent would be declined.
Wike said the current Senate and House of Representatives controlled by the APC lack the capacity to use veto power to override Buhari, if he refuses to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
Speaking on how his successor would emerge, Wike reassured that the leadership of the party would meet to decide who to support at the appropriate time.
Wike maintained that he was obliged to ensure that PDP wins the 2023 governorship election, but he would not impose any candidate on the party.
“There is no right thinking Rivers person who will say Wike’s administration has not done well for Rivers State. And so, I believe everybody will want somebody who has something positive to add.
“One mistake I will not make is to impose somebody. From my experience as a student of history, reality has shown that it is difficult for you to say Joseph is the man I can trust. Until you give somebody power and money, that is only when you will know whether that person is trustworthy or not.”
Wike said God will not allow someone that will destroy all the remarkable progress the state has made over the years to be the next governor.
According to him, God will ensure that it is only someone who is courageous, firm and ready to protect the interest of Rivers State that will succeed him.
“Rivers State is a state that so many people have interest. It is a state that you have to put your feet on the ground. It is a state that you have to annoy a lot of Nigerians, and a lot of Nigerians will hate you. But what is important is for you to know what is good for your people, and stand for your people. Do not allow personal interest to sway you against the interest of your people.”
‘140m Nigerians Lack Access To Justice’
She said this while addressing the Justice Transformation Lab in Kaduna, adding that 11million residents in Kaduna State also lacked access to justice.
According to her, the Hague Institute of Innovations of Law came into being in Nigeria in 2018 and had been in Imo State before coming to Kaduna State, adding that it is ready to help 150million Nigerians have access to justice by solving the most urgent and most important of their justice challenges in the next nine years.
She added, “We want to help 150million Nigerians solve their most pressing justice problems by 2030. This is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
The country director explained that HIIL intervention is hinged on five pillars such as working from data, applying best practices, scaling game-changers, creating enabling environment for actionable plans, and strengthening the movement to ensure that people-centred justice is possible in Kaduna and in Nigeria.
Responding, the Attorney General of Kaduna State and Commissioner for Justice, Mrs. Aisha Dikko, said that HIIL as an organization focuses on a user-friendly approach to provide access to justice.
She opined that the collaboration would support the justice sector in identifying key issues and practical solutions to the administration of justice in Kaduna State.
She expressed the belief that the engagement and outcome will birth the first Justice Transformation Lab in Kaduna State, saying that the Ministry of Justice is determined to work with all stakeholders in focussing on effectively achieving its mandate.
Put Pressure On Buhari To Sign Amended Electoral Act, Wike Tells Media
The governor said it was important that the media should enlighten Nigerians to know why there should be electronic transmission of election results in order to save the nation’s democracy.
Wike stated this in his remark after he was conferred with the “Gold Prize for Exceptional Leadership,” award by the This Nigeria Media Newspaper in Abuja, last Wednesday.
He said considering the importance of the Electoral Act amendment to the survival of the nation’s democracy, the media ought to deem it a priority to exert pressure on the president to sign the amended Act.
“As watchdog of the society”, the governor said, “the Nigerian media should enlighten Nigerians on the benefits of both direct and indirect primaries.
“Who are those to benefit more if the direct primaries is conducted. Who are those to benefit more if it is indirect primaries? So, it is important that Nigerians should know why there should be electronic transmission of results in order to save our democracy”, the governor said.
The governor said the only way those in position of authority can become accountable to the people, is when electoral process is free and fair.
He maintained any electoral system that permits security agencies to be used to rig election, and for Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials to be manipulated, would not yield accountable governance.
Wike commended the INEC for the successful conduct of the just concluded Anambra State governorship election.
“Now, they have performed well in Anambra State, everybody is praising them. But when they did not perform well in Rivers State, should we praise them? We cannot. When a general in the Army will convert a whole division to INEC office, will you be happy?”
Wike urged Nigerians to always deemphasise their ethnic and religious affiliation in order for the country to achieve the desired national cohesion.
“There is the need for all of us to still believe that this country must be united. But, if we want to move forward, we must drop the issue of where you come from. We must drop the issue of where you worship. Overemphasis of these things causes a lot of disintegration and which is not the best for us.”
Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who chaired the occasion, said the country was going through tough times.
According to him, the current travails of the country also offer opportunities for the emergence of a great nation.
The guest speaker, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, who delivered the This Nigeria Inaugural Lecture with the theme: ‘National Cohesion for Sustainable Growth and Progress: The Nigeria Dilemma,’ blamed the drafters of the Nigerian Constitution for the country’s lack of national cohesion.
“Something as fundamental as a Constitution, the debate and the issues that ought to form the kernel of our governance have never been subjected to the intellectual rigour that is required. The result is that we have never debated our Constitution based on the peculiarities, the cultural expectations, the hopes, the anxieties, and the fears of ordinary Nigerians”, he said.
He argued that the country would not be fixed until Muslims understand the grievances of the Christians; and until Christians understand the grievances of Muslims.
The Publisher of ThisNigeria, Mr. Eric Osagie said Wike was conferred with the flagship award of the newspaper because of his exceptional leadership in the vanguard of infrastructural revolution.
The “Gold Prize for Exceptional Leadership”, according to him, “is usually bestowed on that man or woman who has impacted exceedingly in the lives of Nigerians, and in whose legacy has potential of transcending time and space.
“Wike”, Osagie noted, “has injected over 70percent of the state income in capital projects in the funding of roads and other critical infrastructure. A feat, that is unprecedented in the history of state administration in Nigeria”.
This Nigeria Newspapers also conferred Gold Prize in Public Service award on Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum; Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Ishaq Oloyede; and Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, respectively.
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