Perhaps for the first time, President Muhammadu Buhari and the immediate past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Attahiru Jega, will meet under one roof after the election midwife by Jega.
The point of convergence of the trio will be the annual Conference and Awards Ceremony of LEADERSHIP, scheduled to hold on Thursday October 6, 2016, at the Abuja Transcorp Hilton Hotel by 10am. The three important men, whose actions have shaped the Nigerian political scene, according to a statement from the newspaper, have already confirmed their participation in the annual awards event.
This year’s event is significant as it will bring together a serving and two former presidents, governors, legislators, members of the diplomatic corps and elder statesmen to discuss the theme: ‘Democracy, Political Transition and the Challenge of Leadership in Africa.’ The keynote address will be delivered by the Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel.
The Group Managing Director, Dr Cletus Akwaya, in a statement yesterday, disclosed that former head of state and elder statesman, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, will be chairman of the occasion and is scheduled to present the Persons of The Year awards to the winners. The trio of President Muhammadu Buhari, former President Goodluck Jonathan and immediate past chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega, are LEADERSHIP’s Persons of the Year 2015. The Etsu Nupe and Chairman, Niger State Council of Chiefs, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, will be the royal father of the day at the event, with Senate President, Bukola Saraki as guest of honour while the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello is co-host. In a letter of confirmation signed by his chief of protocol, Sani Musa Daura, the minister said he would personally grace the event. “Their selection followed a critical review of their various contributions to the growth and development of democracy in Nigeria and the peaceful and seamless manner in which the three eminent Nigerians handled the 2015 democratic transition without derailing the country’s democracy to the admiration and commendation of the global democratic community,” the statement pointed out.
It further stated that the LEADERSHIP Awards would be honouring President Buhari “for making history by being the first opposition candidate to defeat a sitting president after three attempts.” In the case of former President Goodluck Jonathan, he would be recognised by the newspaper “for achieving the improbable and for conceding defeat in an election in which he was a contestant – a first for Nigeria.” The former INEC boss is to be honoured “for his courage, doggedness and fairness even in the face of threats to his life in the conduct of the 2015 elections,” to global acclaim.
Explaining the criteria employed by the newspaper’s Board of Editors in arriving at the choice of the trio LEADERSHIP said: “It always seems improbable until it is done. We may now take for granted the watershed of the 2015 presidential election but who could have thought it would come to pass? It was far from being so before it was done. When Nigeria held her presidential poll on March 28, 2015 – the fifth since civilian rule was restored in 1999 – it had all the elements of a do-or-die affair. “Providence and three key personalities – Jonathan, Jega and Buhari, turned the tide. They jointly midwifed and protected the people’s mandate and the nation’s democracy from the pernicious machinations of contending interests. In choosing the LEADERSHIP Person of the Year, the Board of Editors could not separate the three central characters who defined 2015.
We celebrate these icons of democracy for their role in the nation’s proper initiation to true democracy.” According to the statement, Abdulsalami was chosen to present the Persons of the Year awards because of his role before, during and after the 2015 general elections, particularly in the National Peace Committee, where he, together with other statesmen, got the presidential candidates of the major political parties in the election to sign peace accords.
The management noted that Abdulsalami was largely instrumental to the peaceful conduct of the candidates, a role he played using his experience in 1999, when he midwifed the peaceful transition of power from the military regime to a democratically elected government. The board and management of LEADERSHIP stated that the venue for the event was chosen in view of the high-powered guests who would be attending it. The board assured that all logistics had been put in place to accord the event deserving honour and prestige. The Presidency had earlier confirmed that President Muhammudu Buhari will personally attend the event. Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, confirmed to LEADERSHIP, that the president will grace the occasion as guest of honour.
Similarly, LEADERSHIP also confirmed that former president, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, will be attending the annual awards. The former INEC chairman currently based in the United States had also confirmed that he would attend the event. Fifteen other individuals and organisations will also receive awards at the event. They include the Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwabo, House of Representatives Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara, former Managing Director/CEO of Bank of Industry (BOI), Mr Rasheed Adejare Olaoluwa and chairman of Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko. Others are: Mr Boboye Oyeyemi, the Corp Marshal/CEO of Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Managing Director of Intelsat Nigeria Limited, Mr Simone Volpi, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Dangote Cement, Heritage Bank, Access Bank, SystemSpecs, Zenith Bank, Chibok Girls, the Golden Eaglets and the rave of the moment artiste, Mr Korede Bello.