It was simply grandiose, full of glamour and glitz. Talking about the National Network Newspaper 18th birthday anniversary staged at the Banquet Hall of the prestigious five-star Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The Management Team of the sizzling Newspaper led by its pragmatic Publisher, Pastor Jerry Needam had taken time to plan the anniversary which execution last week Friday November 10 was rated as a huge success.
Having mooted the idea of celebrating it, we immediately took off with the pre- programmes event gradually.
We had started with opinion survey about the character and achievements of our prospective awardees, that is, those penciled down to be given awards at the event. Through the painstaking evaluation by our respondents, the management had settled for twelve prominent Rivers citizens for conferment of awards.
The next thing we did was to send a letter of nomination to each of the personalities informing them of their nomination for the awards. Having accepted in good faith to receive the honours, the management went ahead to print special invitation cards and distributed to the nominees as official confirmation of their nomination and invitation to the event.
We followed with the printing of the special edition of the newspaper, which the Editorial Team tagged: “National Network 18th Anniversary Special Edition” where we listed names of our awardees, their profiles, their landmark achievements and congratulatory messages from their friends and well-wishers.
In all, we had thirteen nominees, one of them a corporate body that graciously accepted the invitation and confirmed they would be coming to receive the awards.
They are: His Excellency, Sir Siminalayi Fubara nominated for Most Outstanding Technocrat and Man of Peace Award, Bro. Felix Amechi Obuah nominated for Life Patron of National Network newspaper Award, Rt. Hon. Dumnamene Robinson Dekor nominated for Most Outstanding Federal Lawmaker Award, Hon. Awaji-Inombek Dr. Abiante nominated for Most Impactful Federal Lawmaker of the Year Award, Hon. (Barr) George Ariolu nominated for Best Local Government Council Chairman Award, Sir (Hon.) Friday Mbakpone Okpe nominated for Most Outstanding Local Government Council Chairman in Infrastructural Development and Youth Empowerment and Chief (Barr) Ben Eke nominated for Most Outstanding Local Government Chairman in Sports Development.
Others are: Dr. (Barr) Samuel B. Kalagbor nominated for Best Rector of the Year Award, Sir Mike Elechi nominated for Outstanding Company Chief Executive and Best PHCCIMA President Award, Mrs. Sotonye Toby-Fulton nominated as Most Exemplary Daughter of Rivers State, Hon. Lesi Maol (Managing Director, Giolee Global Resources Limited) nominated for Most Outstanding Philanthropist Award, HRH, King (Air Commodore Rtd.) T. E. O. Ogube, JP Ogube I, Perekule Kingoli I, Amayanabo of Kirike Kingdom nominated for Most Outstanding Royal Father of the Year Award and Satisfaction Eatery nominated for Most Outstanding Company/Hospitality Organization Award.
These proposed awardees who hold powerful in position in the society and their entourage were ushered into the superbly decorated Banquet Hall of the Presidential Hotel where the National Network 18th Anniversary was held.
Other dignitaries who graced the classic ceremony include, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, lawmaker representing Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency II at the House of Representatives, Hon. Paulinus Nsirim, immediate past Commissioner for Information, Rivers State, Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke, former Federal lawmaker and a top member of the PDP, Ledum Mitee, former MOSOP President and a prominent Ogoni son, HRH, Sara Igbe, a popular Kalabari Chief and outspoken Rivers son, Eze Simon Wokoma, Paramount Ruler, Rumuokwurusi Community, Eze Temple Ejekwu, Paramount Ruler, Rumuogba community, Job Stanley Job, NUJ Chairman Rivers State, represented by his, Vice Okechukwu Maru, Lilian Okonkwo, NAWOJ Deputy Chairman South-South, Susan Serekara, Rivers NAWOJ Chairperson and Ngo Martyns-Yellowe, Publisher of TODAY’S TOPNEWS and a prominent member of RIVPA.
These dignitaries were treated to a wonderful reception at the classically decorated Banquet Hall amid sonorous music from life-band and rib-cracking jokes from our comedian.
Jerry Needam who has managed through administrative ingenuity to keep National Network afloat, was at his best, personally conducting the dignitaries to their special seats amid occasional flashy smiles
Before the commencement of the conferment of the awards, the General Manager/Editor-in-Chief, National Network, Chris Konkwo had given a brief history of the paper, highlighting its achievements and challenges. He had given credit for the survival of the paper in the midst of the economic crunch bedeviling the country to the administrative ingenuity of the Publisher, Jerry Needam and the dogged efforts of all the staff.
Dr. Nsereka, Chairman, Editorial Board of National Network had also made a brief speech before the conferment spelling out the criteria for nominating the awardees, after which the chairman of the occasion, Dr. Sokaribo Augustine Oweredaba mounted the stage and started calling the proposed awardees one by one for the conferment of the awards on them.
The awardees, already listed above, after receiving their honours, in their separate speeches, paid glowing tributes to National Network for honouring them and for being able to survive in the midst of hard times facing the publishing industry in Rivers State, and the general economic downturn bedeviling Nigeria and Nigerians. They prayed for its continued survival.
Ledum Mitee, former MOSOP President who was not an awardee, singled out National Network for eulogies for staying afloat for 18 years, saying other papers that started before it had long been rested. He urged National Network management to continue to work hard to keep the paper afloat. Goodwill messages were also given by other invitees.
The Publisher of The Newspaper, Jerry Needam, filled with joy as a result of the number of prominent personalities that graced the anniversary and the huge success it recorded, showered his heartfelt appreciation to the invitees and wished them journey mercies back to their homes.
Congratulatory messages had since been pouring in for National Network on account of the success of the anniversary.