Jurists formally announces recipients of Pan African Zik Prize in Leadership Awards

After the usual rigorous review process, the advisory board of Zik Prize in Leadership
Awards formally announces winners of the combined Year 2021/22 Zik Prize winners.
In a release signed by Professor Pat Utomi, head of the awards’ selection committee, the organisers explained that the award was instituted in honour of the first President of Nigeria and Commander of the Armed Forces, the late Rt. Honourable Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, and each year it has always recognized and encouraged outstanding leadership on the African Continent and in the Diaspora.

According to Professor Pat Utomi, the program was put on hold last year as a mark of respect following the passage of two members of the Advisory Board; Prince Emeka Obasi erstwhile Executive Secretary and Prof George Obiozor in March and December, 2022.  The reason, he said has led to this edition becoming a combination of winners across year 2021 and 2022″.

In Political Leadership category, Professor Pat Utomi unveils His Excellency Hakainde Hichilema, President, Republic of Zambia as the inner of the combined Year 2021/22 Zik Prize Awards.

In a continent well known for its leadership challenges, he said, “President Hakainde Hichilema, according to its release has distinguished himself as a great shining light, not only to his South African nation, Zambia, but the black race”.

An example in sheer doggedness and perseverance, the 61-year-old Zambian farmer, businessman and now politician, contested five previous Presidential elections between 2006 and 2016, before emerging victorious at the 6th time of asking in 2021, he averred.

Currently,  Zambia is ranked the 8th most competitive country in Africa on the Global Competitiveness Index and whilst in its recently released report, Forbes Magazine ranked Zambia the 7th best country with the ease of doing business among 54 African countries.

Hichilema’s leadership construct and political sagacity has marked him out as an outstanding political leader.

Similarly, Professor Pat Utomi announces Professor Benedict Okey Oramah, President of the AFREXIM Bank as the winner of the Year 2021/2022 Zik Prize in Professional Leadership category.

In the media release, Professor Utomi said, “Professor Benedict Okey Oramah has remarkably piloted Africa’s premier multilateral financial institution to deliver on its mandate of boosting economic expansion in Africa by financing and promoting intra-and extra-African trade.  and accelerating industrialization”.

A key promoter of AfCFTA as Africa’s pathway to industralisation, he championed the introduction of a Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) that was adopted by the African Union (AU) as the payment and settlement platform to underpin the implementation of the AfCFTA, according to Professor Utomi.

He has also led the onboarding of 500 of the continent’s 600 regulated commercial banks into its Afreximbank Trade Finance Facility (AFTRAF) placing it in the vortex of the most extensive bank messaging network on the continent.

Also, the Professor Utomi said, “His Excellency Mr. Godwin Obaseki, Executive Governor of Edo State as the winner in the Good Governance category”.

A financial and administrative guru, Professor Utomi said Mr Godwin Obaseki has brought his wealth of experience in the private sector to bear in addressing the issues of governance in Edo State.

In the space of 7 years, his make Edo Greater Again agenda has accomplished tremendous success in public administration, repositioning the civil service and the transformation of the state’s failing education sector, he said.

By implementing wide scale transformation projects, particularly the deployment of cutting edge technology in training and equipping Edo teachers with modern skills to deliver sound and qualitative teaching, The EdoBest project success has inspired Lagos to create the EkoExcel scheme.

In addition, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, MON, CON, Chairman of SIFAX Group won the combined “Year 2021/22 Zik Prize in Entrepreneurial Leadership category”.

An entrepreneur of note, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, MON, CON, is the current Chairman of SIFAX Group, a leading business behemoth with diversified interests in maritime, tourism and hospitality, energy, aviation, oil and gas, haulage and logistics. 

Professor Utomi said, “While many businessmen are hesitant to invest in the nation’s murky and unpredictable business waters, Afolabi’s indomitable and diehard nature to frontally confront all obstacles has helped him to succeed in ventures where others before him had failed”.

From being a trailblazer, his brainchild, SIFAX Group has in just over three decades become a household brand in the country, especially in the maritime, hospitality, haulage and logistics industries. Notably, his massive investments in Nigeria’s terminal operations, especially its off-dock solutions, have positively affected the industry and catalyzed economic growth.

In Humanitarian Leadership category, the Professor Utomi unveils Her Excellency Hajiya Aisha Atiku Baguda as winner of the combined Year 2021/2022 Zik Prize.

Professor Utomi said, “Her Excellency, Hajia Aisha Atiku Abubakar, former 1st lady of Kebbi state, is a consummate humanist and philanthropist who has over the last fourteen years been a ‘hope giver’’ to thousands of  otherwise hopeless citizens of the country”.

She has since 2009 set up the Mass Literacy for Less Privileged and Almajiri Initiative (MALLPAI), an NGO that has quietly gone about its business of enhancing the quality of life of Nigerians by supporting and empowering initiatives that improve access to health, education and agricultural opportunities, he said.

Mallpai has invested extensively in the return of out of school children to school and girl child education. It continues to empower indigent women and vulnerable groups in the country from its offices in six states (Kebbi, Kaduna, Kano, Edo, Delta and Lagos) and FCT where it is headquartered.

The formal presentation ceremony of the Zik Prize Awards, usually a celebratory event, will hold on Sunday 19th November, 2023 at the Eko Convention Centre, Lagos.

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