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It is now the norm for media houses, especially print, to assemble Nigerians for what
is now an annual ritual for purposes of giving out awards to deserving personalities,
who in their estimation have distinguished themselves in their various fields of human
endeavor. These awards are usually categorized, grandiose in nature, with eminent
personalities invited to hand over the award certificates/insignia to the chosen
Experience has shown that the selection process leading to the emergence of these
awardees are not subject to public scrutiny by way of nomination and voting but
remains the exclusive preserve of the management of the various media outlets.
The Sun Publishing company, publishers of the Sun Newspapers stand out amongst
media outlets in Nigeria. It is outstanding in content, delivery and circulation. It remains
an authoritative medium and appeals to a wide spectrum of Nigerians in readership
and patronage.
This writer is an avid reader of the Sun Newspapers, especially its weekend editions.
Over the years, nominees and recipients of the Sun Annual Awards have been worthy
Nigerians requiring no introduction and with sterling records of achievements and
accomplishments in their various fields of human endeavor.
The choice of these eminent Nigerians for the yearly Sun Awards have not only
received national acclaim as deserving on the awardees, but has equally raised the
estimation of the Sun Publishing Company and its management in the eyes of
discerning members of the public. The high worth of these awards as exemplified by
the choice of the recipients has encouraged well-meaning Nigerians to work harder
for recognition. It is in the light of the foregoing, that we remain in shock over the
sudden and unexpected lowering of standards in this year’s awards.
It is obvious that there was indeed a Jonah in the Sun’s ship conveying the awardees
to Nineveh. It is important to state at this juncture, that the Sun Newspapers especially
as presently constituted in ownership and management has Abia State as its ancestral
base. The publisher and management of the Sun Newspapers are at home with the
struggles and pains of the people of Abia State.
For purposes of clarity, the publisher of the Sun Newspaper is Distinguished Senator
Orji Uzor Kalu, a former governor of Abia State and the present Senator representing
Abia North Senatorial District, while the managing director/editor-in-chief is Onuoha
Ukeh. Both men are from Abia State and are eminent Abians in their respective rights.
They are both conversant with the state of affairs in Abia State including all the past
and present dramatis personae in the affairs of Abia State.
It is obvious and in tandem with the ordinary course of events that major decisions like
drawing up the list of awardees for the Sun Newspapers Annual Awards will be made
with input from the publisher and the managing director. In actual fact, it is the

tradition managing director visits each of the awardees for presentation of
the award letter prior to conferment.
This year’s 2021 Sun Awards had three Abia State indigenes as awardees. One will
regard this as a bountiful harvest for Abia State. This single haul of three awardees t
Ahia State is unprecedented in the history of the Awards. Trying to find an answer for
this huge harvest for Abia State might be difficult if not impossible, but an enquiry into
ho propriety or otherwise of these awards on the Abia State recipients is feasible.
Several weeks before the award event, the resume of the three awardees from Abia
State and the raison d’etre for their qualification was put in the public domain
various print and electronic media advertorials. The first two Abia State recipients in
the persons of Dr. Chris Odinaka lgwe and Engr. Nnamdi Ezeigbo stand out clearlv as
accomplished individuals in their own rights and deserving of the awards bestowed on
them by the Sun Publishing Company Ltd.
Dr. Chris lgwe of Mainland Oil and Gas Ltd is a known name in the oil and gas industry
in the Country. He has a humble beginning and has single-handedly grown his
enterprise from a Lilliput beginning to the giant status it has attained in the industry.
He has through his entrepreneurial acumen provided countless jobs for numerous
The second recipient- Engr. Nnamdi Ezeigbo – 1s the chairman/CEC of Slot Systems
Ltd. Slot is a household name in the Nigerian cyber world and has business outlets in
all major cities in the country and beyond. Engr. Ezeigbo is renown, accomplished and
stands tall in the Nigerian business circle.
The third Abia recipient is Engr. Chinedum Orji, whose qualification for the long service
award, as stated by the Sun Awards, is that he is the speaker of the Abia State House of
Assembly. For want of what to proffer as the achievements of this recipient of the Sun
Award on Public Service, the Sun Newspapers mentioned the following as his
achievements- Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, remodeling the Abia
State House of Assembly Complex, quick passage and enactment of the Abia State Law
on Ban on Open Grazing and Provision of 8 number mini- stadia in his Constituency.
This writer is at a loss or in great difficulty at rationalizing the Sun Award on Public
Service on this recipient on the premise of the aforementioned achievements.
Remodeling the Abia State House of Assembly Complex, Quick Passage and enactment
of the Abia State Law on Ban on Open Grazing, provision of 8 Number mini stadia in
his Constituency are not worthwhile occurrences worthy of recognition. My assertion
is more glaring when you place side by side the outstanding achievements of the two
previously discussed recipients and indeed all other recipients in the entire award
event, vis-a-viz the this third Abia State recipient under discourse.

The inclusion of the Speaker of the Abla State House of Assembly as a recipient of the
2021 Sun Awards is a great disservice to the other accomplished recipients, as it has
greatly reduced the worth of their awards. The Abla State House of Assembly is as old
as Abia State, which at the last count is thirty years, It has over these past years had
Speakers, including the present deputy governor of the State who was sheepishly
dragged to the award event. Being a Speaker of a State House of Assembly, albeit in
controversial circumstances does not in any way amount to an achievement. The
structure consisting of the Abia State House of Assembly was not built under the
stewardship of the present speaker and neither did he commit any of his personal or
family funds to its renovation. The law banning open grazing in Abia State ong8nated
and was sponsored by Rt. Hon Chikwendu Kanu. Credit on the passage of the Law
should go to the sponsor of the Bill and in fact all other members of the House of
Assembly, including the State governor who gave his assent to the Law.
Erecting spectator stands in few football pitches within Umuahia cannot amount to
Public service worth recognizing or applauding. Public service in my mind relate to
number of years and how impactful that service has been in the affairs of the citizenry
his writer and about 99% of Abians give thumbs down to the Sun Newspapers
management for the inclusion of Engr. Chinedum Oriji as a recipient of the 2021 Sun
This recipient of the Sun Awards has held the people of Abia State down and hostage
for more than a decade, a fact well known to the editor-in-chief and publisher of
the Sun Newspapers. Abia State is presently in its dire and sorry State courtesy of this
recipient, his allies and cronies. So many prominent sons and daughters of Umuahia
Central State Constituency have had their political lives shortchanged and cut short in
order to pave way for this recipient in his political misadventure.
Will the Sun Newspapers claim ignorance of the ongoing investigation of their
recipient and his family over massive mismanagement of the funds and
commonwealth of the people of Abia State, by the Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (EFCC) between the period 2007-2015 and even up to the present day?
It is most troubling to see the Sun Newspapers providing a platform for this awardee
and his cohorts to further subjugate and insult the sensibilities of well-meaning
Abians. If the aim of the award display was to distract the people of Abia State and
relevant government agencies from demanding accountability for several years of
plundering the resources of Abia State, it is an exercise in futility. If the idea of the
award was a public relations stunt between the Sun Newspapers and the family of the
recipient to display reconciliation, it is rather too late in the day. if the award is a public
relations rehearsal towards launching the recipient for the 2023 governorship election
in Abla State, it is dead on arrival.

Has the Sun Newspapers suddenly forgotten all its editorials and news reports seeking
for good governance in Abia State for the past 15 years Has the Sun Newspapers
Suddenly forgotten the treatment meted to their renowned columnist-Ebere wabara
who was handcuffed and driven in a bus from Aguda, Sunulere to Dmuahia? Has the Sun Newspapers forgotten the panel of enquiry set up in Umuahia to unravel how
printing machines allegedly procured for the Abia State Newspaper were diverted to
Lagos to set up the Sun Newspapers Has the managing editor of the Sun Newspapers
who was seen posing in a picture, while handing over the award letter to the recipient
at the Abia State House of Assembly, Umuahia, forgotten so soon an entire Chapter he
devoted in his recently published book on misgovernance in Abia State, orchestrated
by the recipient, his family and his cohorts?
This writer is aware that this recipient placed an embargo on the procurement and
reading of Sun Newspapers in the Government House, Umuahia. Past Commissioners
for Information in Abia State will attest to this fact, as some of them were relieved
from office for violating this directive.
In all these, one thing stands out clearly, and it is that whoever initiated and saw the
award on this recipient through, had pecuniary gains in mind. This motive I must admit
was achieved. The number of tables acquired at the event and the amount of outflow
of funds in congratulatory messages are clear testimony on achieving the motive for
the award on this recipient. Abia State remains the loser in all these, as its resources
continue to be mindlessly wasted in vain glory events.

Having brought the Abia State House of Assembly into focus via this award, it is
important we focus our searchlight on the Abia State House of Assembly. It might
interest the Sun Newspapers to know that both the Speaker of the Assembly and the
Clerk-who is the Chief Accounting Officer – are relations. This scenario is not only an
anomaly but equally an abuse which has invariably led to unaccountability and misuse
of funds meant for the legislative arm of government. It is only in a state like Abia that
this form of abuse will persist. Not too long ago a former Commissioner of Finance in
the State drew the attention of the public to the monumental funds being advanced
to the State House of Assembly under unexplained sub-heads.
The award on this recipient is unmerited, diversionary, undeserving and an added
insult on the sensibilities of a wide spectrum of Abians, who bear the brunt of
maladministration in the affairs of Abia State courtesy of the sustained ill activities of
this recipient and his cohorts. The Sun Newspapers management definitely owes the
suffering masses of Abia State and indeed well-meaning Nigerians an apology for
their misjudgment and glaring insensitivity to the plight of Abians.

We will continue this discourse.

CHIDIEBERE NWOGU for himself and on behalf of Abia Responsibility and integrity
Coalition (ARIC-Building back a better Abia)

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