Many awards have been cancelled, some postponed like the Grammys, due to COVID-19. But not this.

Our panelist said 2020 was a tough year for everyone, yet some Nigerians distinguished themselves by standing out, so it is best to honour them this year. Where do we start? At the top, of course.

For his fight for democracy, much that the US has become jealous of late, for how his administration earned so little but did so much, for being a believer in the rule of law except when national security is in question, for talking so little except when he is abroad, President Muhammadu Buhari distinguished himself last year.

With a resounding round of applause, give it up for the Public Servant of the Year, President Muhammadu Buhari.

Nigeria’s first woman, Aisha Buhari, did well for herself, too. Amidst travel bans, she did the unthinkable: she reportedly relocated to Dubai citing insecurity. Before that, she has been in and out of the country. How much have we missed her drama and her conspiracy theory about some cabals in the Aso Villa. Where are the cabals by way? We’ve not heard much of them in like an eon.

Were it not because she is “in the abroad,” the Panelists believe that Mrs Buhari would have made some revelations about the happenings in the other room. Her absence has earned her an award nonetheless. Take a bow, First Lady, yours is the Disaporan of the year. 

In a pandemic, one would easily have stuck one’s neck out for a health minister to be the best performing minister, but no, there is another GOAT in the Buhari’s ministerial lineup.

The “Vee Eye (VI) boy,” a former senator, a two-term governor and Nigeria’s chief labour negotiator, Chris Ngige, had a go at the award. But he missed. The judges believe with his consistency on how it took almost a year to negotiate with ASUU, he’s poised to win the trophy soon.

Enter Godswill Akpabio, who showed rare patriotism by jettisoning his senatorial ambition to serve Nigeria as its Niger Delta Minister. A good servant he is, one of the Judges wrote on her scoresheet.

He nicked the award for his infamous session at the National Assembly that gave rise to “off your mic, honourable minister,” where he dropped the bombshell that 60 per cent of NDDC projects are contracted to lawmakers, a position he once held himself. The Judges wondered how many projects he got when he was the Senate’s minority leader before became a political born again by joining the APC.

For his rare show of patriotism, and his heroics with the NDDC which has made millionaires out of some officials, who else deserves the Minister of the Year if not Godswill Obot Akpabio? The floor is yours, Honourable Minister.

There was a stiff opposition among governors to outwit themselves to win their category. The Governor of Blush and Bliss who has wept more than he has delivered, a doctor who once gave a doctored thought on the use of nose masks to curb the spread of COVID-19, had a strong shot at the award.

But Ben Ayade was edged. Not by Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku, who spent about three months out of the state after power failure made him fall off the staircase. Not by Mai Mala Buni who is more of the APC interim chairman than he is Yobe State Governor. Not those.

The award goes to Yahaya Bello, who has even been tipped to run for the Presidency. Yes, Nigeria’s Presidency. His acumen at ensuring Kogi is “COVID-19 free” by developing an app to detect coronavirus at a glimpse was praised. The Judges said they hope his ingenuity would help create a vaccine from Kogi under his leadership.

He fought battles and he died many times, but he always had a way to come back. Observers even named him the Political Cat with Nine Lives. In 2020, Adams Oshiomhole, although he lost one key battle, gave Nigerians a masterclass on Godfatherism and how to be fight a political war. Make welcome, Adams Oshiomhole, our Politician of Year.

Brother Shaggi, Taaooma, Mr Macaroni would never have believed anyone could have been more dramatic. Certainly, not Fugitive Maina, who has mastered the art of fainting, came close, but the man whose name is mouthful just as his antics are even more handful won it.

A doctor by profession who succeeded not in the theatre but in theatrics. He left many mouths agape as they gasped for breath, out of awe and disbelief, when, under the heat of a crowded room and questions at a corruption hearing on the NDDC which he headed, he fainted.

Me as Pondei: Let me just faint. I can’t answer all these hard hard questions

All manner of hands poked in his mouth could not resuscitate him. His one scene thriller has outlived 2020 as his face has become the poster boy for twitter memes. Over to you, Professor Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei, to you is the Dramatist of the Year.

While the world wondered who ordered the infamous Lekki shooting, one man gave us something to chew by detecting a camera which was believed to hold the missing jigsaw to the Lekki puzzle. Agent Fash some call him. Babatunde Fashola beat all odds to win the Detective of the Year, shrugging off contests from Tukur Buratai and even General Taiwo.

He has fainted for like a dozen times even though he’s not been diagnosed with any known seizure. But he gets well when it is time to run, all in the bid to dodge justice. His pace would make even Kenyan marathon legend Eliud Kipchoge jealous. 

Former pension boss, Abdulrasheed Maina, was not lucky enough in his last marathoning which took him to Niger Republic, where he was nabbed in December. His running heroics has earned him the Fugitive of the Year.

Each time Nigeria teeters on the brink of “brokeness,” its late dark-googled kleptocratic former strongman, Sani Abacha, comes to the rescue. Thanks to Abacha loot, how would Nigeria have wriggled its way through 2020, including for relooting by his protégés? Philanthropist of the Year, Abacha, it’s yours in the taking. Shall a representative step forward?

Honorary mentions go to presidential aide Femi Adesina and information minister Lai Muhammad. The Judges awarded a month Netflix subscription to both of them.

The former was advised to use the subscription to watch Designated Survivor and pay attention to the cast Seth Wright, while the latter was told to see Annalise Keating’s How to Get Away with Murder and pay attention to the character.

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