The Stars At TELL Awards




Preparations are in top gear to honour Nigeria’s shining stars in all walks of life at a grand event in Lagos on June 17

It was a brisk business meeting. It had to be so because aside from scores of political associates and other visitors waiting in the living room, information had been received that Evander Holyfield, former world heavyweight boxing champion was on his way to visit Bola Tinubu, national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. Yet it was apparent that the man who had governed Lagos State for eight years and has so far had a say in the choice of his successors in office had had a hectic day. The almost untouched food on the table in his office, and the fact that he was just concluding a meeting with Olusegun Osoba, former Governor of Ogun State, told the story. But when he sat for a meeting with the TELL team led by Nosa Igiebor, president, TELL Communications Ltd, Tinubu showed no sign of fatigue.

Tinubu with Igiebor Photo

Tinubu with Igiebor

For him and Igiebor, it was a happy reunion, having been at the barricade together during the dark days of the military, fighting for the enthronement of democracy. Incidentally, last week, the mission of Igiebor, Onome Osifo-Whiskey, vice president, Dejo Oyawale, chief operating officer and Wola Adeyemo, executive editor, publications, was to formally present to Tinubu a letter as the winner of TELL’s National Icon of Democracy award. The award will be given to him during the maiden TELL Awards for Excellence at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, on June 17 this year. He told the former governor that the award is a recognition of his ‘passion’ for democracy and the resilience in putting together a coalition that invariably removed a sitting government through a democratic system. According to Igiebor, the change in 2015 was not just a change of government from one political party to another, but also “a deepening of our democracy.” He also acknowledged the fact that Tinubu “always surround [himself] with the best brains”, stressing that even when critics first disagree with him on some issues, like the fielding of Babatunde Fashola, an obscure politician for governor of the State in 2007, they later praised his ingenuity. [twitter_icon] As TELL’s president said, “ I had to accept later that there is a method in your madness.” That was because Fashola became the reference point at all the APC campaigns, because of his performance as governor. He built on the foundation left by Tinubu, under who he served as chief of staff.

Adeyeye Ogunwusi Photo

Adeyeye Ogunwusi

[twitter_icon] Tinubu, on his part, praised the “provocative analysis” of the magazine which has put leaders on their toes over the years, while recalling that TELL was a leading voice in the struggle against military dictatorship. Though he said the magazine initially saw him as an IBB boy, because of the link between his late mother and former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, he used that as a challenge to stand on the side of the people when the time came for the political class to tell the general the truth. He told the delegation, “This is an honour I cherish. I will be there because I believe TELL has been telling the story with integrity and incisive knowledge of the society.”

That has been the chorus everywhere the company went to present the letters of honour to outstanding individuals and companies that will be celebrated at the forthcoming event.

For instance governor, Kashim Shettima of Borno state said he accepted the award because it is coming from a credible organisation like TELL. He commended the company for its leadership role in fighting for the restoration and entrenchment of democracy since the years of the military, noting that he had always been an avid reader of the Magazine. Shettima and Ben Ayade, governor of Cross River State will each take Governor of the Year award at the event. At the palace of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11, the reception was equally warm. The monarch, who commended the magazine for being forthright in its assessment of issues and disposition to national development, said he had been a fan of the magazine for a long time. He accepted the offer of the award and pledged to attend. Igiebor had informed the revered monarch that he was chosen for the award, because of his disposition to build bridges and promote peace among humanity. He is to be awarded Man of the Year Award along with Muhammad Sanusi 11, the Emir of Kano.

Aisha Buhari Photo

Aisha Buhari

At the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, the director-general, said he had to review an earlier decision to turn his back on awards. Hear him:I have distanced myself from awards because they have been rubbished over time. … But when I was informed about the TELL awards, I called my team and we deliberated over [it].” The decision they arrived at is that “ if TELL, with its reputation, can recognise us, that means we have truly done well.”

Babs Alasa, Chairman, Awards Committee said the process leading to the award of Public Organisation of the Year to NIMASA, began with a call for nomination from the public.  He said the nominations brought out three organisations, adding that the voting earned NIMASA a higher percentage to beat the other two. Corroborating him, Osifo-Whiskey said, “Credibility is key to the process.”

The TELL train also visited the management of Air Peace, which won the Domestic Airline of the Year Award. Receiving the TELL team, Allen Onyema, the chairman and chief executive officer of Air Peace commended the management of the magazine for their efforts in promoting the profession of journalism in Nigeria, especially the magazine’s dogged fight for democracy during the military era.  “The legacy you have is more than the billions you don’t have. TELL is one media institution that everyone should be proud of. TELL is responsible for 80 percent of the transition from military rule to democracy that we have today. When I was informed that we have won the award, I was in the USA looking for planes to buy. I celebrated the award where I was”, he said. He was particularly excited by the list of the awardees. “The names you have mentioned for the awards show the level of credibility of TELL. Tinubu has paid his dues. He deserves the honour for his struggles for the entrenchment of democracy”, Onyema said.

Other awardees for the June 17th ceremony are Mrs Aisha Buhari, wife of President Muhammadu Buhari – TELL Woman of the Year, Professor Umaru Danbatta – CEO of the Year; Muhammad Babandede, Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service will be honoured with the Outstanding Public Servant of the Year Award, Otunba Subomi Balogun – Life Time Pioneering Entrepreneur of the Year [2016] and Chief Leo Stan Ekeh – Life Time Pioneering Entrepreneur of the Year [2016]. The award of Private Sector Organisation of the Year goes to Dangote Cement Company, while Bank of Industry gets Banker of the Year Award.

Posthumous awards will also be given in honour of Gani Fawehinmi, that brilliant lawyer who lived his live fighting for the rights of fellow men and women and Dele Giwa, the journalist who was killed while promoting the freedom of speech.

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