DELTA Governor, Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, was on Sunday honoured with the 2019 Zik Prize in Leadership for “Good Governance”, in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments in road infrastructure and socio-economic development of the state.
The award was presented to the governor by the Public Policy Research and Analysis Centre (PPRAC), organisers of the Zik Prize in Leadership awards to mark its 25th anniversary.
Senate President, Dr Ahmed Lawan, was also honoured with the Zik Prize for Political Leadership; Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Zulum (Good Governance); Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde (Good Governance); Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha (Public Service).
Others were Founder of Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited, Dr Stella Okoli; Managing Director of UBA Plc, Mr Kennedy Uzoka (Professional Excellence); and Executive Vice Chairman, Nigeria Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta (Professional Leadership).
Receiving the award at the Civic Centre, Lagos, Okowa said that the honour done him by the PPRAC would spur him to do more in the areas of skills acquisition, contributory health insurance scheme, micro credit, widows empowerment and total infrastructural upgrade in different sectors of the state economy.
Represented by Secretary to the State Government, Mr Chiedu Ebie, the governor said “I am impressed with the recognition of our modest contributions to the development of our state and I want to assure you that we will expand the frontiers of all the programmes that earned us this award, in 2021.
“In spite of the present global economic hardship, our administration will continue to adopt best practices in project conception, execution and implementation of policies and programmes, even as I thank all Deltans for their support in moving the state forward.
“The late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was a great patriot, bridge builder and a role model of note, and I therefore call on Nigerians to sustain his legacies by promoting positive traits that he radiated while on earth,” Okowa stated.
In his remarks, the SGF, Boss Mustapha, who received Zik’s Public Service award at the event, equally lauded Governor Okowa for his inspiring contributions to the overall growth and development of Delta and Nigeria, especially for his role in liaising with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
While commending the organisers of the ceremony for the honour done him and other recipients, Mustapha called on Nigerians to put the interest of the nation above self as late Nnamdi Azikiwe did and was called Zik of Africa.
He used the forum to call on Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) whose members are currently on a protracted strike, to shift ground in the interest of students and their parents by suspending the action.
He said that the Federal Government would do its best to resolve the differences to enable students go back to school.
Also speaking, Nobel Laurette, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who was the Chairman at the event, disclosed that Zik was a rare gem that believed very strongly in the unity and progress of Nigeria.
“The man Zik is worth celebrating, I owe him a lot of gratitude and any opportunity i have to pay him debt of gratitude, I will definitely maximise such opportunity.
“As I congratulate recipients of various categories of the 2019 Zik Prize, I must also laud the organisers of the programme for sustaining the annual event since its inception 25 years ago,” he said.
In his welcome address, Chairman of the Advisory Board of PPRAC, Chief Marc Wagbara, said that since inception 25 years ago, Zik Prize had emerged as the most respected award in Nigeria.
According to him, PPRAC established the Zik Prize in Leadership Awards as part of its annual lecture series to further highlight the great Zik’s monumental legacy of patriotic fervour and nationalist vision.
He stressed the need for Nigeria to continue to work for every citizen irrespective of ethnic, religious and political affiliations, and congratulated recipients of the Zik Prize in Leadership, even as he implored them to remain committed to the noble ideals of good governance which earned them the awards.
He restated that Zik believed in one Nigeria, adding that size, diversity and demography of Nigeria, makes it one of the most important countries in the world.
“The Zik Prize has continued to attract interest from Nigeria and beyond because the organisers have been led by great Nigerians of impeccable honour and integrity.
“The personality of the man whose honour the award was instituted has also contributed to the great successes recorded by the Zik Prize since it was founded in 1995.
“To put Nigeria on the path of progress as envisioned by Zik and other great nationalists, justice, equity and fairness must be observed by leaders in all ramifications,” he said.