Dignitaries gathered yesterday, amid pomp and ceremony, to celebrate THISDAY Newspapers as it marked 25th year of robust journalism.
The silver jubilee celebration, themed ‘A Gala Evening to Celebrate Africa’s Most Authoritative Media and Technology Group’, was witnessed by governors, both serving and former; captains of industry, technocrats and politicians.
A key part of the programme was the presentation of awards to 24 people and organisations, including President Goodluck Jonathan; Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi; President, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Chairman, Globacom, Dr. Mike Adenuga; GTBank, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, Tony Elumelu Foundation and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
They were honoured under the various categories of the THISDAY Awards of the Decade.
All the speakers took turns to salute the vision, boldness, drive and the creativity of the Editor-in-Chief and Chairman, THISDAY Media Group/Arise TV Networks, Prince Nduka Obaigbena and his team that have birthed and sustained THISDAY Newspapers.
The anniversary also witnessed the world premiere of Africa’s first global streaming service, Arise Play. Billed to kick off on March 27, 2020, Arise Play is a beyond streaming platform that will shape the future, of which Leaders and Company, the parent company of THISDAY Newspapers and Arise TV, is already championing.
The event, which held at the Eko Hotel Convention Centre, Lagos, oozed class and the stark beauty of the decoration was blinding.
Lined up on the left of the hall were walls of glittery mirror that illuminated the red carpet. While guests walked down to the red carpet, the wall on the right was however more of interest for THISDAY staff, former and present, all 1, 250 visionaries, who had their names written in white on black, as a salute for their doggedness over the years.
Draped in their finest, the guests were first hosted to a cocktail in another area that was decorated yet again with black backdrops, which contrasted beautifully with the dim lights that flickered at intervals.
On entering the hall, the guests were welcomed to the beautiful ambience of the set tables and the golden bubbles that was the backdrop of the huge stage.
At the dinner proper, drinks flowed and tasty meals served as the audience were first welcomed by the hosts; Arise TV’s Charles Aniagolu and his two co-hosts.
Chaired by Zenith Bank Founder, Jim Ovia, the awards kicked off with the premiere of Arise Play as the compere named the Chief Technology Officer as Charlie Pipper and the Content Creator as Biola Alabi, among others.
There was a musical interlude in which John Legend,the renowned American singer and Nigeria’s renowned international act, Asa, took to the glittery stage to serenade the crowd with some songs from there albums.
Her next offering was ‘Bibanke’, a crowd favourite before she delved into her all time classic, ‘Fire on the Mountain’ and other songs from her first album ‘Beautiful Imperfection’. She would go on to sing other sets.
After a brief interlude, Obaigbena, took to the podium to acknowledge VIP guests, including Naomi Campbell, whom he said had pushed the African brand for 36 years.
He also lauded the company, his brainchild, for reshaping Africa in the past 25 years, just as he commended all 1,250 visionaries who helped in fulfilling his dream of a world class media brand.
In her brief speech, Campbell said: “You can’t be global if you miss out on Africa.”
In his opening remarks, Ovia said Arise had become at par with CNN but with an African focus and commended Obaigbena for his contribution to journalism.
As the evening progressed, the awards section kicked off with former Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, receiving the Governor of the Decade (People’s Choice) Award.
Although not present, in his pre-recorded video, Fashola dedicated the award to the people of Lagos, the civil servants and all security agencies.
On the other hand, former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, received the Editor’s Choice award for Governor of the Decade and in his speech, he urged public officers to use public funds for the purpose it was meant for.
While the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, won the Banker of the Decade (People’s Choice) Award; the Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, won that of the Editor’s Choice category.
Emefiele’s award was received by Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, CBN, Aisha Ahmad, who reiterated the pledge of the CBN governor to ensure that the financial system continues to support economic growth.
Dangote won the Entrepreneur of the Decade Award (People’s Choice) while Adenuga won that of the Editor’s Choice category.
Dangote’s company also won the Company of the Decade (People’s Choice) Award while NIigeria LNG Limited clinched the Editor’s Choice category.
In his speech, Dangote attributed his success to the collective efforts of staff of his conglomeration and pledged to continue to invest in Nigeria and Africa.
The Philanthropist of the Decade (People’s Choice) Award was won by Femi Otedola, who said he had to re-evaluate his life when he noticed he had clocked 57 years, prompting him to commit himself to charitable cause.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation won the Editor’s Choice category of the Philanthropist of the Decade Award.
During an interlude, international music star, John Legend, thrilled the audience with hits upon hits.
The presentation of the awards resumed after the interlude with Amaechi receiving the Minister of the Decade (Editor’s Choice) Award while that of People’s Choice went to former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonji-Iweala.
The Bank of the Decade Award was won by Zenith Bank (People’s Choice) and Access Bank (Editor’s Choice).
Also, the Brand of the Decade Award went to Glo (People’s Choice) and GTB (Editor’s Choice) while the Woman of the Decade (People’s Choice) was won by United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Ms. Amina Mohammed and author, Chimamanda Adichie, won the Editor’s Choice category.
The CEO of the Decade Award, (People’s Choice) was won by Dangote, while that of Editor’s Choice was won by GTBank Managing Director, Mr. Segun Agbaje.
The Institution of the Decade Award went to the CBN (People’s Choice) and the EFFC won that of the Editor’s Choice category. Finally, the Person of the Decade (People’s Choice) was won by President Muhammadu Buhari and by his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, picked the Editor’s Choice category.
In his vote of thanks to round off the celebration, Obaigbena, said: “In doing this vote of thanks, we should honour those who started the journey with us. We have about 40 people who have spent 25 years at THISDAY.
“The board has approved N150 million as compensation or long service award or bonuses for them.”
He thanked all the guests and others for making the day a success.
Some of the dignitaries present were: former Secretary General of Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; Publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, Pa Sam Amuka; Publisher of The Guardian, Maiden Ibru; former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi; National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Adams Oshiomhole; former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu; Afenifere chieftain, Ayo Adebanjo; Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari and EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
Others were former Chairman of Forte Oil, Femi Otedola; Chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr. Jim Ovia; Managing Director of Zenith Bank, Ebenezer Onyiangwu; Managing Director of United Bank for Africa Plc, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka; Managing Director of Eco Bank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Patrick Akinwutan; Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman; Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside; Managing Director of THISDAY Newspaper, Mr. Eniola Bello, as well as former editors of THISDAY.
John Legend Performance: