ORGANISERS of the Nigerian Centenary Awards UK have released the list of 100 prominent UK diasporans who will be honoured at a glitzy gala dinner taking place at Waltham Forest Town Hall on Friday June 27.
Backed by the Nigerian high commission, the event, tagged the Nigerian Centenary Awards UK in conjunction with Ben TV, will see the handing out of plaques and certificates to 100 outstanding citizens over the last century. Dr Dalhatu Tafida, the Nigerian high commissioner to the UK will personally hand out some of the awards, as will other dignitaries including the leader of Waltham Forest Council Chris Robbins and Diane Abbott MP.
Among the 100 outstanding Nigerians to be honoured are historical figures such as Matthew Mbu, Nigeria’s first ever high commissioner to the UK and Teslim Balogun, the first ever Nigerian to play professional football in the English league. Among the more recent awardees are former Arsenal striker Nwankwo Kanu, Victor Olisa, the current borough commander of Haringey; Nwabueze Nwokolo, the chairman of the Black Solicitors Network and Helen Duke, the proprieties of Mama Calabar restaurant.
Ayo Akinfe, the chairman of the Nigerian Centenary Awards UK organising committee, said: “We are using this event to celebrate the good about Nigeria over the last 100 years and to acknowledge the contribution our people have made to both countries. We have our fair share of challenges which we must address but while doing that, we must also acknowledge the positive contributions our people have made too.”
Ronke Udofia, the chairman of the organising committee’s awards sub-committee, whose responsibility it was to compile the list, said it was hard work but was very rewarding. She added that the quality and calibre of the nominees was very high and it was very taxing to whittle the list down to 100.
Ms Udofia added: “As we wanted to ensure transparency, we opened up a website and asked members of the public to nominate people and ended up with about 200 nominees, which we had to reduce to 100. When nominations closed, we found out that the calibre of nominees was of such class, that it was very taxing picking the top 100.
“There are a lot of other Nigerians out there doing a lot of good and impacting people’s lives who deserve recognition for the good they are doing. Unfortunately, we could only honour 100 of them but this exercise has shown that there are thousands of Nigerians out there worthy of emulation.”
Organised by a committee of 32 community leaders and activists, the Nigerian Centenary Awards UK is designed to be the event of the century and will include a three course buffet meal and entertainment. Starting at 7pm and ending at 1am, it will accommodate 450 guests with standard tickets going for £50 and VIP ones available for £75.
Ms Udofia said that there are still a few tickets available, adding that anyone interested in attending should make their order via the website www.nigeriancentenaryawardsuk.com. She pointed that as the organisers want the event to be a celebration of Nigerian culture, it would be ideal if guests wore traditional costumes.