Aniebo wins Future Awards’ Young Person of the Year

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THURSDAY, 11 FEBRUARY 2010 00:00 MOSES KADIRI
• Okonjo-Iweala urges national zeal among youths
TO a first-timer at the Shell Hall of MUSON of Centre, Onikan, Lagos last Sunday event it was something like a big music concert. It also seemed like a busy fair given the buzz of activity. Guests besieged the whole MUSON Centre premises. A mood of celebration was on the air. The event was the fifth season of The Future Awards which its organizers touted as the biggest platform for feting the brightest youths of the country. They pride their yearly award presentation exercise as an outing for distinguishing and honoring deserving youths who stand-out in their chosen career during the given season.

Guests started arriving at about 5pm for the green carpet show. The number grew in during cocktail, and as at when it was 7.15pm, the hall was already filled to the last seat as some guests even had to stand to have a view of what was happening on stage.

In attendance were the crème de la crème in such industries as music, fashion, politics, film, mass media, financial sector and the academic. There were also many students. Among the  guests were the wife of Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Bimbola Fashola,  the managing director of World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, chief executive officer and publisher of Ovation magazine, Mr. Dele Momodu,  Chairman of The Guardian  Newspaper’s Editorial Board, Dr. Reuben Abati, the winner of Orange Prize for Fiction Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the star singer, D’banj, among others.

 In her very motivating but incisive keynote address, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala urged the youth to always put their foot forward for very just courses. Wondering why the young ones appear withdrawn amid a generally drifting state of affairs and growing tide of corruption, the former minister of finance noted: “Things are happening in the country and our youth are not doing enough to protest. I am not trying to excite anybody to go into violence. In a country where things don’t work, the youth stage “peaceful” protest to address the situation. Nigerians are known to be aggressive in other country, but when they come to their country what do they do? Nothing”.

She added: “When you hear there is a governor that is doing right and they want to remove such person, what do you do?, you stage a peaceful protest.”

Okonjo-Iweala therefore charged the youth not be transnational youth but transformational youth.
 “If you live here without doing something to uplift Nigeria, then you are not a true Nigerian youth,” she urged.
 She implored them not to engage in anything that will ruin their personal images and that of the country. Citing The Future Awards slogan as worthy guide for Nigerian youths she told them to cast as their mantra the resolve: “I will never steal government money, I will never collect a bribe, I will never cover up fraud. I am not corrupt. I will vote in elections. I truly believe Nigeria can work. I will do my bit to make change happen. I love my country. I am the future. I represent Nigeria.”

The event was spiced up by performance from the energetic artiste Kefee who sang from her popular song Kokoroko.
Visually challenge music producer, Cobhams Asuquo, a previous winner of The Future Awards, also performed. The keyboard specialist’s fingers ran magically on the piano  as he performed, turning out tunes that sent deep feelings through the crowd.

Explaining the reasons for the award, one of the founders, Mr. Chude Jideonwo, a lawyer by training said: “We waited for a long time no one was ready to take up the task. Many people have lost hope in the Nigerian project and we wanted to restore that with the project... We want to prove to the youth that they can develop themselves and succeed despite what is happening in the country.”

Speaking on the difficulties encountered, Jideonwo, a British Council Telling Stories Competition award winner said “when we approach banks for sponsorship of the project, they would not accept. But when other people go there for another thing, they will gladly sponsor such projects. I want to thank those that have been behind us for the past years. Weather there is sponsorship or not, we will continue to celebrate young Nigerians that have done the country proud.”

During the presentation of the awards, Tolu Sangosanya went home with the award of Best Use of Advocacy while the Best Use of Science honour went to Ify Aniebo. Distinguished for Best Use of Technology was Bade Adesemowo as Debola Lewis went home with the Business owner of the Year award.

Other winners include Screen Producer of the Year, Kenneth Gyang; Team of the Year, African Youths Unite for Change; Style Entrepreneur of the Year, Linda Ikeji.

 Star prize, the Young Person of the Year went to Miss Aniebo for braking boundaries as a research scientist outside the country. Aniebo was the youngest and only black person in the Welcome-Oxford-WHO unit in Thailand and in the Malaria Department at the Sanger institute in Cambridge. She is presently researching on a vaccine for malaria while she is studying for a PhD at Oxford University, United Kingdom.

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