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Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu (Young Person of the Year)

It was an evening of celebration and advocacy at the Landmark Village, Oniru Estate, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Sunday 30 January 2011 as the crème of the Nigerian youth converged to celebrate their peers who have excelled in their respective professions. It was the 6th edition of the Future Awards, the most reputable platform for recognition of the brightest and best of young Nigerians working tirelessly round the year to make laudable impact on humanity in Nigeria and the world.

BN Editorial Assistant, Gbenga Awomodu was at the event and tells us about his Future Awards 2011 experience.

The red carpet event kicked off some minutes past 5PM and had a colourful parade of latest fashion and diverse personalities; from the strictly formal to the casual native and the utterly weird. It was altogether a mind blowing experience with a rare opportunity to meet up with old friends and those virtual “friends” you perhaps had only met in online chat rooms and stalked on social networking sites. There you got to put a face to popular names and shake hands with those faces you mostly see on the TV and on the glossy pages of magazines – Tosin Otitoju (Young Person of the Year 2006), Esther Agbarakwe (Climate Change activist) and Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu (Rolex Laureate) made my red carpet experience worthwhile.

After about two hours of networking and interviews, it was time to go into the auditorium for the main course. The troika of Ego, Tunde Obe and ChiDynma, started off with a powerful upbeat version of the National Anthem. ChiDynma’s strong vocal power stood out along with the live piano accompaniment, which made my day. I felt proud to be a Nigerian and the ovation that enveloped the auditorium proved me right. It also felt cool being on the VIP section. Other highlights of the evening include the presentation of awards, the keynote address by Olusegun Aganga, the Minister of Finance, Chude Jideonwo’s passionate speech and Adebola Williams’ deft handling of the presentation of the Young Person of the Year Awards. I think he did a good job at making every finalist feel like the winners they truly are! In his speech, Olusegun Aganga, a former Managing Director with Goldman Sachs and Founder of the Nigeria Leadership Initiative, appreciated the efforts to make a difference exhibited by the youths awarded and entreated the others to continue to work towards personal achievements and nation building. He affirmed that he had been impressed as already promised by Oby Ezekwesili and Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, who had spoken on the same platform in the past.

Mr. Olusegun Aganga, Honourable Minister of Finance

While the seemingly impatient young audience murmured and even clapped their hands (as to send a signal to the articulate technocrat), they embraced the Creative Director of The Future Awards, Chude Jideonwo’s highly dramatic, yet earnest and heartfelt, speech. It underscored the awareness of the grave consequences of colossal failure in government and misplaced priority in most Nigerian companies’ CSR drives vis-à-vis the overt materialism which continues to impede many wealthy Nigerians from strategically giving real hope to the less privileged (youth) in the society. He gasped, he sighed, but he never stuttered a bit in a tenacious and evocative, yet fluent and charismatic, style. “It is no longer cool to be disinterested,” he said as urged leaders to realize the pertinent challenges of being a youth in Nigeria. “Put your money where your mouth is!” He had made his point! I and many other guests could not but stand after such a piercing rendition of truth! A lady sitting across the table exclaimed: “This guy is the future!”

All the winners are aged 18 to 31. “Every year, we continue to make the point that we are not one of those people who say Nigeria is a great country as a cliché,” says Adebola Williams, who is the event’s operations director. “We are ready to show anyone that there is a new generation that has integrity, that is not corrupt and that is ready to build this nation. We are proud, immensely proud to present a group of scientists, artists, entrepreneurs and others who are ready to make contributions towards the development of their country.”

Continue reading here.

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