By NBF News

Tomorrow, the crème of Nigerian society and captains of industry will gather for the first edition of the Humanity Awards, a novel concept packaged by frontline society journalist and Publisher of the National Weekender, Mr. Al Humphrey Onyanabo at which Otunba Subomi Balogun, chairman, FCMB Group, will be honoured as Person of the Year. Al Humphrey told Saturday Sun about the awards and why some people are being so honoured.

What is the genesis of the Humanity Awards?
A lot of people have told me there are too many awards and each time, I tell them what we are doing is unlike whatever any other person is doing. We have carved out a distinct niche for ourselves and we intend to stay there. Humanity Awards is not about achievers in business or politicians or entertainers. It is about human beings. It is about recognising a few good men and women and corporations who are reaching out to others. It's about applauding outstanding people in our society who are investing their time and resources to uplift the lives of those around them. It's about honouring people who in their own special ways are helping to make this world a better place for us all.

Is this award meant only for the rich?
You will be disappointed because your money will not get you on our honours' list. And to answer your question, No! Humanity Awards is not meant for the rich alone. To be a truly great nation, the wealthy among us must use their riches to provide a ladder of comfort for the poor; to be their neighbours' keeper. Humanity is enhanced when people wholeheartedly work in unity and cooperate to pull one another up for the common good of all. The advancements in the western world today in science, technology and medicine have been made possible by the benevolence of the rich who have set aside hundreds of millions of dollars for the endowment of foundations and grants for research into all spheres of life, both during their lifetime and beyond. Men like Rockefeller, Joe Kennedy and Bill Gates are icons whose legacies will resound through countless generations.

What you require to be recognized are your good deeds. People who have been outstanding in public service are being recognised; such as teachers, policemen, doctors, pastors etcetera. It's not about how much you have but the quality of your impact on society. We want to instill the art of doing good, helping the less fortunate as a way of life. We want to encourage the rich among us to learn to look out for others and to create a distinct club of Nigerians whose lifestyle of helping others needs immortalisation for all time. The vision of the Humanity Awards is to institutionalise doing good into the Nigerian system, starting this year by recognising and celebrating 50 outstanding individuals, corporations and public organizations, who are giving selfless survive to their immediate communities, environment and to humanity as a whole.

Otunba Subomi Balogun is the Humanity Awards Person of the Year 2010. Why is he being so honoured?

Thanks. A careful study of the private life of this icon, Otunba Subomi Balogun, will reveal that he has lived a life of philanthropy and charity. And all these facts are not in the public domain. These acts, he has carried out privately on his own. He has singularly, over the last 10 years, spent over N1.9 billion to build the Tunwase national pediatrics hospital at Ijebu Ode, Ogun State for children. This is what some rich men in our society have that they claim to be the richest in Nigeria. He deserves to be so honoured. What's more? He has adopted numerous children and put them in his will as benefactors of his estate.

A couple of months ago, I was in a taxi with my wife. We got talking with the driver and he told us a very important story. The topic was on the state of hospitals in Nigeria. He told us that 16 years ago when his son was born at the Ijebu Ode General Hospital, he had a critical life-threatening condition. They were referred to the Yeye Subomi children's ward, which is funded and serviced by this great man, salaries of the nurses and doctors, drugs and equipment are bought by him free for children. According to this driver, his son survived only through the benevolence of this gentleman.

Who are others who will be honoured?
Mr. Femi Otedola is being honoured as a friend of the Nigerian masses, for helping to stabilise the price of diesel in Nigeria at the risk of his life and the institution of a N2 billion foundation for indigent students in Epe, Lagos State. Prophet T.B Joshua will also be honoured, for service to humanity. He has touched the lives of various classes of people through his acts of philanthropy and goodwill to the down-trodden among us. Senate President, David Mark, will be recognized, for helping to silently improve the lives of people in Benue State through scholarships and youth empowerment. Mofid Karameh of Mikano International Limited, will be honoured for service to the Nigeria Police. Chief O.B. Lulu Briggs, is also there, for helping to elongate the lives of the elderly in his native Abonnema.

Others are Gov. Babatunde Raji Fashola, for public school system improvement and poverty alleviation and Gov. Ikedi Ohakim as well as Mr. Newton Jibunoh for helping to safeguard the environment, and Obong Godswill Akpabio for free and compulsory education at all levels in his state. How can I forget to mention Gov Ibrahim Idris of Kogi State, for his over 20 years of being a pathfinder for his Igala kinsmen, providing jobs and scholarships to all that find their way to his doorpost? There are many others. Also to be honoured are the MTN Foundation, Cadbury Plc, Promasidor Ltd, UNESCO, and British Council.

Is it going to be a strictly men's affair?
Of course, not. Ex-First Lady of Nigeria, Hajia Turai Yar'Adua, will be leading a bevy of prodigious Nigerian women who will be recognised at Humanity Awards 2010. She will receive the Humanity special recognition Award for her campaign against cancer and encouraging other first ladies to do same in their states, and for spearheading the building of the International Cancer Centre in Abuja.

Former First Lady of Lagos, Chief Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, will be appreciated for setting up the New Era Foundation, which encourages indigent students and youths in Lagos State. Prof Dora Akunyuli will mount the dias to be honoured for her enduring work at NAFDAC. She will receive the Humanity Legacy Award for proving that one individual can make an institution work and impact the lives of all through checkmating the importation of fake and adulterated drugs into the country. Yemisi Suswam, First Lady of Benue State, will be honoured for her work with destitute and youths while the late Alaere Alaibe will receive posthumous recognition for her far-reaching efforts to educate women in the Niger Delta. She will share this honour with another great Nigerian, the late Sir Mobolaji Bank Anthony who built and equipped Ayinke House at the General Hospital , Lagos for the service of children.