When Nail Armstrong, the first man to enter the moon, first conceived the idea of man’s voyage to the outer space, little did he know it was to usher in a revolutionary turning point in the history of man’s conquest of the universe. Every turning point in the annals of man’s endeavours can thus be traced to a noble idea, conceived and delivered from a great mind. Nothing is too difficult to succeed. Armstrong arrived the moon in July, 1969.
The annual celebration of excellence in Ondo State by The Hero, Publishers of Hero Magazine International, was an idea borne from the innovative minds of Sunday Akinbiola and Segun Odidi, Chairman and Chief Operating Officer respectively of The Hero Group. Till date, the award has been adjudged as the best in the series of awards instituted in the state. And with the support of Agbede Rotimi, who having just returned to Nigeria, having been away on an international assignment, the 2021 edition of the Ondo State yearly award was most epoch-making.
Far from what may ordinarily seem like unnecessarily trumpeting the achievements of the awardees, it was, and still is, to motivate more of our sons and daughters to join in building a tomorrow for the society.
By the way, human capital plays a major role in the development of a nation. Nigeria is made up of over 250 nation-states. It is an amalgam of nationalities with common affinities which over the decades have fermented into the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The federal nature of the country permits and encourages the nationalities that make up the nation to strengthen unities within their diversities. Each of these states making up the Nigerian Federation has its unique ways of furthering its objectives. Awards, when they are credible, serve as stimulants for excellence as they drive people to give their best. Unfortunately, in Nigeria, not many credible award system exist – at least none compares to the likes of Academy Awards or Nobel Prizes. The federal government has given hundreds of national and merit awards to Nigerians (including Ondo State indigenes) in the past and several state governments have also introduced occasional awards. Controversies have trailed the National Merit Award System (mainly over the lopsided nature of the award). And because it is a federal scheme, it must necessarily fall in line with the principle of federal character; hence only few deserving awardees could be picked from each state. Not more than three awardees are usually picked from each state, which means that in 10 years, only 30 indigenes of Ondo State could be so honoured. The Hero could not wait for the federal government to recognize Ondo State’s indigenes who have done exceptionally well as her outstanding leadership awards of which the fourteenth in the series was held on Sunday September 12, 2021 at the International Culture and Events Centre, De Dome, Igbatoro Road,Alagbaka, Akure.
It was indeed a gathering of who is who in the society as the occasion attracted the dynamic presence of the Deputy Governor of the state, Honourable Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa who wore two caps on the day, having represented the Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), as he was also there upon the invitation of the organizing committee and some of the awardees.
The Olugbo of Ugbo Kingdom, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Fredrick Enitiolorunda Obateru Akinruntan who perhaps was in the public space for the last time as the Chairman of Ondo State Council of Traditional Rulers added glamour to the event with his retinue of vehicles and people in his entourage. He was the Royal Father of the day. Other dignitaries that graced the august occasion included Olusola Oke (SAN), chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and former gubernatorial candidate in Ondo State, Rt. Hon. Iroju Ogundeji, Former Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, scores of Professors from the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, including Benson Akinnawonu and Kunle Olatunmile, and the University’s Registrar and Bursar, Raphael Arajulu and Tobi Orina, among others, who have come to felicitate with the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Olugbenga Ige who was among the personalities honoured at the event. The impressive array of traditional rulers left no one in doubt that it was a grand occasion as not even a single person could deny the fact that the honourees were truly deserving of the awards given them.
Meanwhile, Governor Akeredolu as well as the Group Managing Director of Elizade Group, Chief Michael Adeojo bagged the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Ondo Sector Commander of the South-West Security Network, otherwise referred to as Amotekun, Chief Adetunji Adeleye, DCG (rtd.) was conferred with the Ondo State Security Man of the Year; Hon. Femi Adekanbi, former Commissioner in no fewer than three ministries, Ondo State Personality of the Year; Engineer Andrew Ajinde Omomehin FNSE, Ondo State Oil and Gas Man of the Year; and Rev. Adesola Omogbeminiyi Adebanwo who emerged as the Ondo State Development Influencer of the Year. Others in the series include Raymond O. Daodu (ROD) who was decorated as Ondo State Young Achiever of the Year; Hon. Abayomi Sheba, Ondo State Youth and Human Capacity Developer of the Year; HRM Oba (Dr.) Rufus Akinrinmade, Orunja of Odigbo as Oustanding Traditional Ruler of the Year; Hon. Tomide Akinribido, MHA, Legislator of the Year; Olugbenga Ige, erudite Professor and Vice Chancellor of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko as Pillar of Education in the State; and Lanre Moyero, foremost sports promoter and business leader, as Pillar of Sports of the Year.
Also greatly honoured were Kunle Odusola Stevenson who emerged as Ondo State Business and Innovative Man of the Year; Dr. Seyi Oshodi, Most Oustanding Innovative Youth of the Year and foremost philanthropist and Sadauki Daura 1 of Danburam, Prince Babatunde David as the Most Supportive Youth Empowerment Man of the Year.
Meanwhile,the occasion was chaired by Professor Akinbo Adesomoju, Chairman of the Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology who congratulated The Hero for doing a proper and thorough search as he noted the contributions of the awardees to the development of the state in particular, and the nation at large. Ondo State’s former Head of Service, Ajose Kudehinbu exhibited a high display of scholastic efforts as he delivered a lecture on Economic Recession: Unlocking the Potentials of Our People for Youth Empowerment, Development and Emancipation as the Guest Speaker on the occasion. He has by his humble and spirited efforts in research and contemporary issues analysis aligned with James Russell Lowell that ‘(in academics) the only argument available with an east wind is to put on your overcoat’. One cannot but be fascinated by his indelible example of mental toiling and exploits that have undeniably added to the success of the grand occasion.
The Hero Family salutes the administrative spirit of the organizing and selection committee, the supportive roles of our awardees, including Prince Babatope David who alone rolled out an intimidating donation of millions of naira, and other Distinguished Awardees, the presence and support of our guests, the scintillating entertainment of highlife juju maestro, Sir Demola Suzi and his Band, and of course the contributions of other stakeholders towards the success of the event.
As for all the awardees, I end this with the prayer that may your shadows never grow less.
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