The aura, pomp and pageantry of the event could be felt days earlier even months earlier. Last year, nominees for Silverbird Man of the Year were asked to be voted for by the general public. Nominees for 2017 Man of the Year Included Abdul Samad Rabiu, Nyesom Wike, Aminu Tambuwal, Dr. Joe Okei Odumakin and Ibikunle Amosun.
Earlier this year, it was announced that the Winner is the Governor of Rivers State; Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
On the D-day as expected, Nigerians came in their numbers to be part of a great exclusive evening at the prestigious Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island.
The blue carpet which was slated for 6pm did not disappoint. Notable politicians, movie stars, legislators, beauty queens, royal eminences all came out to grace the blue carpet which was anchored by Bridget and Anthony.
Few hours later, the event proper started with a warm welcome by the gracious anchor. There was no time to be wasted as the Award Ceremony kick-started immediately.
The first award was presented by the first Lady of Ghana; to Hajia Abba Folawiyo for the Silverbird Lifetime Achievement Award. The first Lady of Ghana described her as a phenomenal woman. The next award was presented by Senator Adeleke to Senator Daisy Danjuma after which he Senator Adeleke entertained us with his unique dance moves. The next Award was presented to Lady Maiden Ibru. Her son received the award on her behalf and mentioned that she sends her greetings to other recipients. Ever dashing actress Rita Dominic presented the next award to the founder of Emzor Pharmaceuticals; Stella Okoli. In her acceptance speech, Stella Okoli admonished Nigerians that this award should spur us and her personally to do better especially in Nigeria that we have so much to do. She also gave words of encouragement and stated that no one should be left behind.
The next category was the Post humous category. The first presentation was done by the former vice president of Nigeria to the family of late MKO Abiola. Atiku Abubakar in his presentation speech mentioned that he was presenting the award with a very heavy heart. He mentioned that he participated in MKO Abiola’s primary election and also stepped down for him. The award was received by Abiola’s daughter. In her very moving speech she mentioned that her father in a bid to fight for this country lost his life. She urged Nigerians that as this July marked the 20th year of her father’s passing, that come 2019 elections, Nigerians should support candidates with great vision for Nigeria and the capacity to implement the vision. She added that every government since 1999 is a direct result of one man’s struggle. The next award was presented by Willie Obiano in memory of Odumegwu Ojukwu. The award was received by Bianca Ojukwu; who was also the former ambassador of Nigeria to Spain. “In Nigeria, you become better understood when you are dead and harmless”, she quoted her late husband’s words to her. The next award was presented post homously to Abubakar Saraki.
The Silverbird Extraordinary Business Achievement Category was up next. The first recipient of this category was the founder of the flying doctors; Ola Orekunrin. In her acceptance speech, she told a short story of how her team was able to save a 16 year old boy from a 20 hours journey he might not have survived by air ambulance. The next award was presented by veteran actor, Zack Orji to Zinox technologies founder, Leo Stan Ekeh. Leo Stan Ekeh passionately said that “tech guys can change the history of this country in 24 months. Deji Alli who is the founder of ARM pensions was the next recipient of an award. He admonished Nigerians to go for visionary, forward looking, bold, audacious leader that is capable of taking Nigeria forward. The Most Beautiful Girl In Nigeria along with Bryan Okpara presented the next award to Biodun Shobanjo who mentioned in his speech that he works with about 17,000 individuals and has been in the business for 47 years. The former governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniels presented the next award to billionaire; Abdul Samad Rabiu who declared Silverbird award as the crème de la crème of awards in Nigeria.
The governor of Central Bank of Nigeria was the next recipient of the Silverbird Special achievement award who dedicated the award to his hardworking colleagues at the Central Bank of Nigeria. The award was presented by the Silverbird Man of the Year, 2011; Godswill Akpabio. The next award was presented to the governor of Kebbi State for his tremendous effort to feed Nigeria. Dino Melaye presented the Silverbird Public Servant Award to Babatunde Fowler for his exemplary leadership and for digitalizing the FIRS.
There was a quick break from Award presentations which awarded the former Vice-president of Nigeria to take the Keynote speech. In his speech, he highlighted the shortcomings of the current government in power. He urged Nigerians to do better in the coming election. Ayo Fayose was the next in line for receiving an award but before the award presentation, Senator Adeleke entertained us with his impressive dance moves. Ayo Fayose warned Nigerians not to bring cowries to his door step in his acceptance speech. The governor of Bayelsa State on behalf of a representative received the next award.
The first person to be awarded the Silverbird Legislative Award was Femi Gbajabiamila who congratulated Atiku Abubakar on his political speech. In response to Ayo Fayose’s comment on people going back to Nokia phones he said that “it is not the phone that makes the man but the man that makes the phone”. Senator Ike Ekweremandu received the Silverbird Legislative Award.
The final Award was presented to the Silverbird Man of the Year, Nyesom Wike who was popularly called ‘Mr Projects’. The introduction of the Award was done by Senator Ben Bruce and presented by Atiku Abubakar.
‘The situation of the country today, confers some of us with no other choice but to rise above ethnic partisan or religious prejudice to rescue our country and our democracy from the ditch it has fallen. No nation can develop good leaders that refuse to separate politics from governance’, Nyesom Wike said in his speech.
The Silverbird Man of the Year Speech marked the end of a beautiful evening where great men and women were celebrated for their outstanding contribution to Nigeria.