It was a gathering of the mighty and people of all walks of life as the organizers of the Nigeria Silent Heroes Award (NSH) celebrated some living legends and unsung achievers in the media, police, the military, businessmen, agriculturists and so many personalities at the Ladi Kwali Hall of Sheraton Hotels, Abuja, recently.
There was music, dance, merriment as well as warning and words of encouragement for the citizenry, especially youths.
Chairman of the second edition of the NSH, Professor Epiphany Azinge, SAN, who described the event as one of the best of its kind in Nigeria, said people should be conscious of their character.
“I welcome all to this epochal event slated to celebrate Nigerians who have consistently shown demonstrable patriotism and unwavering commitment in the service of their fatherland. Over the years, Nigeria has remained a nation in search of heroes. Not even the line of our National Anthem that posits that “the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain” seems to have underscored the essence and significance of throwing up heroes in all spheres and spectrum of our national life.
“Understandably, success in Nigeria is defined by wealth, political attainment, intellectual accomplishments; local recognition by your traditional authority, the solidarity of business empire, and crass flamboyant lifestyle or undignified showmanship. Heroes properly so-called are more often than not relegated to the background of national or societal recognition.
“The main thrust of today’s event, therefore, is to give vibe and vitality to deserving Nigerians who, by their work, are eminently qualified to be celebrated as heroes and heroines. In pursuit of higher ideals and values, these deserving Nigerians have opted to silently and consistently continue their work far removed from the klieg lights, from the media, and from public space. They are unsung heroes.
“Heroes ideally should be recognized in any country. Whether by medals of honour in the armed forces for heroic achievements in wartime; whether by institutions and organisations trying to change the narratives in our country by recognising our silent and unsung.
“Today, the Silent Heroes Award Initiative, in this second edition of its project, has identified men and women qualified to be decorated as silent heroes of our time. These are men and women of integrity and distinction. They are role models and torchbearers in their own right and deserved to be celebrated by all Nigerians.
“No event in the recent past has underscored the need for identifying and celebrating our heroes more than the #EndSARS protest. Our youths are also in search of persons given to altruism and selfless service. Our youths want to learn the art of volunteerism; they want a Nigeria that is worth dying for and making the supreme sacrifice. They want us to reshape our conversation and change our mindset. My hearty congratulations to all the nominated awardees. Let this award spur you to do more in the service,”
In his address, convener of NSHA, Mr. Odita Sunday-Udemaguna, said the event was definitely planned as a way of victoriously ending the COVID-19 pandemic: “I say so because the initiative to identify and recognize some silent achievers in their own right within our plural society, as we are about to witness today, could have died at the level of conception if not that God has a hand in the initiative.
“It is interesting to say that the NSHA is anchored on a process of identification, recognition, and celebration of those whose life activities have positively impacted humanity within or outside their own immediate environment. Those who we are about to celebrate were carefully nominated from among millions of others, in view of the outstanding contributions they have made over the years in their various spheres to add value to humanity.
“In all honesty, I must say that the awardees of today, in their individual capacities and activities, particularly in public space, have remained humble and not audacious in self-praise, in spite of their outstanding achievements, hence, we have chosen to honour them as silent heroes.
“The NSHA is my initiative, but I could not have gone far in actualizing the vision if some individuals and organisations did not key into the vision or give support in their own way. I, therefore, use this medium to express my appreciation to the management of United Bank for Africa (UBA), Zenith Bank, and others, for their encouragement and support.
” I want to say that the NSHA has come to stay as an annual event. In furtherance of the initiative, I would like to disclose our intention to institute the Africa Silent Heroes Awards in the nearest future, with a view to celebrating our unsung achievers within the continent of Africa.”
The special guest of honour, an officer in charge of Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team ( IRT), DCP Abba Kyari, described the event as one of the best in Africa.
He said: “I have gone around the world and attended many awards, but I am yet to see this kind of initiative where unsung heroes are being celebrated. I think this is good and people should key into it, as it is a reminder that even the low and the weak are being watched and acknowledged by people.
“1Nigerians, especially the youths, should know that there is no shortcut to success. Those who are recorgnised today are not only the rich but also the downtrodden. Those who are celebrated today are not being rewarded for the crimes that they committed, but for their achievements and contributions to society.
“So, I want you to be conscious of what you do, as people are watching you. I repeat, if everybody is dedicated and put in their best in whatever they do, Nigeria will be advanced. This is why those in Europe and America are more advanced than us because, there, everybody is putting their best.”
On his part, Nigerian Navy Public Relations Officer, Commodore Suleman Dahun, who was also a guest, said:
“I would advise the youths to be very conscious of what they do and tilt towards hard work, as it is the only way to success. It is not negotiable. We should embrace the virtues of hard work and show patriotism in all that we do.”
An awardee, gospel musician, Austin Adigwe, who performed live during the event, said:
“I am proud of the organizers of this event because I just started music not up to a year ago, yet I was nominated for this prestigious award. I am wondering why I was picked out of rich, wealthy, and popular artists. This is incredible and it shows that the organizers are impartial. What I owe them are prayers. The sky will not be their limit. The award has really shown me that I must be conscious of my daily activities.”