– As Ozekhome lauds man who returned N2.2bn to bank
In recognition of his exceptional contributions towards the promotion of the pharmaceutical industry, Sir Ifeanyi Atueyi, publisher of Pharmanews, was among the eminent personalities who were recently honored with the 2019 Business Hallmark People of the Year awards.
The glitzy ceremony was held 10 November, at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, and attracted a horde of professionals from different sectors of the nation.
The event, which was hosted by Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the United States and Chairman, Business Hallmark Advisory Board, Professor George Obiozor, and chaired by former Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), Professor Anya O. Anya, witnessed colourful displays by the Lagos Cultural Troupe and the Nigerian Police Band, among others, who thrilled guests with their performances.
In his opening remarks, Obiozor noted that the award was organised to celebrate achievers and encourage other Nigerians to aspire to greatness by doing right things.
This, he said, had become more urgent given the dire economic and social situations in the country and the need for expedited efforts to reverse the trend.
Aside from the Pharmanews boss, notable winners of the 2019 edition of the awards included Chief Willie Obiano, Anambra State governor – who won the Hallmark Man of the Year Award; Kennedy Uzoka, CEO, United Bank for Africa – Banker of the Year Award; Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) – Professional Excellence Award in Law and Jurisprudence; Chief Sam Maduka Onyishi, CEO, Peace Mass Transit Limited – Business Integrity Award; Chief Bisi Olatilo, founder, Biscon TV – Professional Excellence Award in Media and Communication; Mrs Folake Ani-Mumuney, group head, marketing & corporate communication, First Bank of Nigeria – Professional Excellence Award in Marketing & Corporate Communication; and Prof. Olufemi Adelowo, consultant rheumatologist, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) – Outstanding Achievement Award in Medicine.
Others were Air Peace Airline – Company of the Year; Collins Chikeluba, CEO, GMO Group – Entrepreneur of the Year; Fidelity Bank Plc. – co-winner, Special Product of the Year; Sterling Bank H.E.A.R.T Initiative – co-winner, Special Product Award; Mr Jackson Agbai Abbah, CEO, Dover Hotel – Outstanding Achievement Award in the Promotion of Hotel and Hospitality; Mr Abubakar Bello, MD NEXIM Bank – Professional Excellence Award in Banking and Financial Services; Dr Godwin Ehigiamusoe, MD, LAPO Microfinance Bank – Outstanding Achievement Award in Micro Financing; Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission – Public Servant of the Year Award and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) – Parastatal of the Year Award.
The Business Hallmark People of the Year Award is an annual event organised by Business Hallmark to celebrate institutions and individuals who are deemed to have influenced national development in positive ways in the course of the year.
While thanking the organisers on behalf of the awardees, Chief Mike Ozekhome applauded Business Hallmark for finding them worthy of the honour.
The SAN noted that he was particularly impressed by the fact that recipients of the awards were not governors and political appointees as many would have expected, but mostly professionals who were honoured strictly on merit.
He used the platform to demand accountability in government, stressing that Nigeria had to be restructured to avert its imminent collapse.
Ozekhome also singled out Peace Mass Transit CEO, Chief Sam Maduka Onyishi for praise, noting that patriots like him were rare.
“I must not forget to thank Onyishi who found N2.2bn in his account and dared to return it to the bank.”
“Others would have said, what the hell? After all, the banks are making money. But you see, it was God speaking to you. We thank you for that large heart. God has not yet started with you,” he said
On his part, Onyishi explained that he took the decision to return the said amount because he could not bear to invest money that didn’t belong to him into his business.
Recalling how he started life as a bus conductor, bus driver and spare parts dealer, the transport mogul said God had blessed him beyond his imagination and he could not therefore fail Him at this point.
“The amount they paid in was ₦3,219,500,000 but my own money there was ₦1,000,000,000, so the remaining balance was not mine”, he said amid applause.
“I resolved that I cannot invest this money by reaping from another person’s sweat. I can’t keep $7million that doesn’t belong to me,” he stressed.