Chiemelie Ezeobi and Mary Nnah report that the 25th anniversary of THISDAY Newspaper was a potpourri of conversations, awards to deserving persons and institutions, as well as world class performances by Nigerian export Asa and Grammy award winner, John Legend. It was also a platform for the premier of Africa's first global streaming service, Arise Play
It was an evening of awards to deserving individuals and institutions, as well as world class performances tinged with short conversations, humour and camaderie at the 25th anniversary of the THISDAY Newspaper held at the Convention Centre of Eko Hotels in Victoria Island, Lagos.
The silver jubilee themed 'A Gala Evening to Celebrate Africa's Most Authoritative Media and Technology Group', witnessed the presence of the creme de la creme of the society, governors both serving and former; captains of industries, technocrats and politicians.
Oozing class aesthetic wise, from the entrance of the hall, the stark beauty of the decoration was blinding. Black was the colour of the day and its classic lines were seen in every decoration and backdrop. Lined up on the left 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, tasty palate with scintillating dessert were served as the audience were first welcomed by the hosts; Arise TV's Charles Aniagolu and his two co-hosts, while the award was chaired by Zenith Bank Founder, Jim Ovia.
Meanwhile, the anniversary also witnessed the World Premier 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, parent company of THISDAY Newspaper and Arise TV, are already championing.
Thus 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, Biola Alabi and a host of others.
World Class Performances
One of the highlights of the event was the world class performances by Nigerian export, Asa. During one of the musical interludes, Asa, took to the glittery stage to serenade the crowd with some songs from her latest album, The Beginning. She took the audience through a medley of another classic 'Mr. Jailer'. 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 another set.
Another highlight of the occasion was the presence of International Music star, John Legend, who thrilled the audience with hits upon hits. It was truly a world class performance.
The Midas Touch
Behind the successes recorded by THISDAY Newspaper and Arise TV, lies the man with a Midas touch; the Editor-in-Chief and Chairman, THISDAY Media Group/Arise TV Networks, Nduka Obaigbena, a Prince of Owa Kingdom.
During the event, he took to the podium to acknowledge his VIP guests, just as he lauded the company, his brainchild, for reshaping Africa in the past 25 years. He also commended all 1,250 visionaries who helped in the dream of a world class media brand.
In between cracking the ribs of the audience by calling guests by their names to sit down, which elicited generous laughter, he would pause his speech intermittently to introduce some special guests like Noami Campbell, whom he said has pushed the African brand for 36 years.
In her brief speech, Campbell succinctly said; "You can't be global if you miss out on Africa."
As the evening progressed, the awards section kicked off with former Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, who won Governor of the Decade (People's Choice). On the other hand, former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, received the Editor's Choice award for Governor of the Decade.
While the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, won the Banker of the Decade (People's Choice); the Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, won that of the Editor's Choice.
Emefiele's award was received by Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, CBN, Aisha Ahmad. Entrepreneur of the Decade was won by Alhaji Aliko Dangote (People's Choice), while Mike Adenuga won that of the Editor's Choice. Also, Dangote's company won the Company of the Decade (People's Choice) while NIGERIA LNG Limited was the Editor's Choice.
Philanthropist of the Decade (People's Choice) was won by Femi Otedola, who said he had to re-evaluate his life when he noticed he had clocked age 57. Meanwhile, Tony Elumelu Foundation was the Editor's Choice.
Minister of the Decade (Editor's Choice), went to Rotimi Amaechi and that of People's Choice, Ngozi Okonji-Iweala. Bank of the Decade was between Zenith Bank (People's Choice) and Access Bank (Editor's Choice).
Brand of the Decade was between Glo (People's Choice) and GTB (Editor's Choice), while Woman of the Decade (People's Choice) was won by Amina Mohammed while Chimamanda Adichie won that of Editor's Choice.
Institution of the Decade was won by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) won People's Choice and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) won that of the Editor's Choice. Finally, the Person of the Decade (People's Choice) was won by President Muhammadu Buhari and the (Editor's Choice) was won by his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan.
Meanwhile, the CEO of the Decade (People's Choice) was won by Aliko Dangote, while that of Editor's Choice was won by Segun Agbaje of GTB.
What People Said...
Awardees and guests at the THISDAY 25th anniversary were full of admiration and praise for the Editor-in-Chief and Chairman, THISDAY Media Group/Arise TV Networks, Prince Nduka Obaigbena for his foresight and unrelenting spirit in the last 25 years of paddling the ship of excellent journalism.
He did it with THISDAY and now, Arise TV, which has become at par with CNN but with an African focus. I commend Obaigbena, he is truly the Duke of Africa.
- Jim Ovia
When Nduka Obaigbena started THISDAY Newspaper 25 years ago, he had enthusiasm, talent, vision and he was ready to work hard. And he is an example to all young people because then he was in his 30s. All young people need to have the drive to succeed in life. To all young people, if you have a vison, if you are willing to work hard, you can make your dreams come through. Nduka congratulations. You set up a household name. You set up an institution with innovation that has raised the bar and raised the standard. I congratulate all the 1000 staff who worked together with Nduka as a team to create the vision. I thank THISDAY for honouring excellence.
- Emeka Anyaoku
I hope this award would not generate other controversies... Former governor of Cross Rivers State, Donald Duke says he is not our 'customer'... . We do not want to keep having everybody as customer. We want to encourage all Nigerians to bring whatever they have back into the country and invest it, so other citizens in the country can benefit from it, especially the youths. The best economies are run by the private sector; the private sector rules the economy; so it is good for people to bring back whatever wealth they have gotten so that it can help the Nigeria society progress.
My boss, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, is here. I remember when we started EFCC, we only had two offices, we had no chairs, we worked on bare floor and we were using our own vehicles for work until government started taking us serious. So, this is an institutional award, I must also dedicate it to those people who were in service and had the leadership of the EFFC before I came, like Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and Ms. Waziri ... We were all policemen who worked together before we came to EFFC.
I am so surprised that THISDAY is giving EFCC an award as the Institution of the Decade because our relationship with THISDAY was not the best; we were not the best of friends really. So, I became very curios when I got the invitation and so I came to collect the award. And I have never stayed so long in any event like I did today, I was so curious whether it was real that I stayed more than two hours in a crowd like this for the very first time. So thank you very much! I want to sincerely thank everyone that is supporting all that we are doing. All we are trying to do is to correct the system and you have to help us.
So, once again, I want to thank the management of THISDAY for this and I want to really dedicate this award to no other person but President Muhammadu Buhari for his courage. He has overdosed of courage; for his tenacity, consistency and unflinching support that give me the guts to do what I am doing. I am telling that we are starting again. His support has encouraged me to apply the fight against corruption in a different way and you would see the massive result very soon. In fact, we would increase the numbers of cells we have in this country very soon. Help us to sanitise the society, so that you wold not keep being at the receiving end of keep falling victims to Yahoo, yahoo boys.
- Ibrahim Magu
Let me again join all those who have spoken to appreciate my very good friend Nduka Obaigbena. This is one Nigerian who makes friends across all the divides. He has the Alikos as his friend and he has we, the workers, as his friends too. There are many areas in which The Duke has scored first. You helped change and drive the Nigeria media to continue to improve. I remember everything used to be black and then one day; THISDAY came out with colour pictures when it wasn't easy at all and then he had the back page. I think we speak the minds of most people when we say that Nduka is truly not just a visionary but he keeps driving changes and showing that anything and everything is possible. If you can dream it, you can do it. And I think you have also shown that notwithstanding the Nigerian environment, it is possible to grow businesses, think through new businesses and see them through as you are doing with ARISE TV. So, let me say I have this rare opportunity to join millions of admirers to say congratulations.
- Adams Oshiomhole
To the Editor-in-Chief and Chairman, THISDAY Media Group/Arise TV Networks, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, board of directors, staff and management of THISDAY, I wish you the very best. It is really a great pleasure to be here and also to thank all Nigerians for their support for finding me worthy of being the CEO of the Decade. We would continue to show you so many wonders going forward. I look forward to winning the next award in the next decade.
I wish to dedicate this award to Nigerians for making it possible. I think Nigerians really made it possible for us to achieve what we have so far achieved in the Dangote Group. I would like to also thank our directors who are here with me. The management and staff of Dangote Group because it is not a one man effort, it is the collective effort of our staff and I am also dedicating this same award to them. One thing I want to assure you all is that we would continue to invest in Nigeria.
- Aliko Dangote
Let me start by first thanking THISDAY for this award and I have heard people call Nduka so many names today - The Duke, but I call him the greatest. And the reason I call him the greatest is because of his audacity, his outrageous interest for this great nation. So I call him the greatest. For me today is a very humbling day. For those who know me very well, Alhaji Aliko Dangote is my mentor and to be receiving an award on the same stage today is very humbling actually.
My final word about individual awards is that I always find it a bit funny to take them and that this award really goes to the board, staff and management of the GT Bank. The reality is that you can never win an individual award if you do not run a great institution. So, for all those who have built this great institution, I thank you and I promise that the next decade would be a greater decade for us.
- Segun Agbaje
Some of the dignitaries present were: Former Secretary General of Common Wealth of Nations, Emeka Anyaoku; Publisher of Vanguard Newspaper, 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), Chief Ayo Adebanjo; Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari and Chairman of the Economic and Financial CrimesCommission (EFCC), 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 Nagerian 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.
As the curtain dropped on the 25th anniversary of THISDAY Newspaper and the world premiere of Arise Play, virtually all agreed that it was indeed a world class affair that is always synonymous with THISDAY. As was succinctly stated by a guest at walkway of the hotel, no one does it better than Nduka Obaigbena. Indeed, no truer words have ever been spoken.