It was a bright Friday afternoon on the 5th December, 2008 at the Victoria Plaza Hotal, London, the event was the Lagos State Government Contact forum, when Julianah Balogun-Oke was presented with the BRF Award for Extra-Ordinary Achievement in the Diaspora by His Excellency, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, the Executive Governor of Lagos State.
This was a culmination of the effort of Champions for Nigeria (CFN) in trumpeting this true Nigerian success story and putting this remarkable woman forward for the award. The occasion was attended by dignitaries from all walks of life, Cabinet members of Lagos States and Captains of Industries, both in the UK and Nigeria. Champions For Nigeria anchored the award presentation session and was ably represented by Mr Akintokunbo Adejumo (Global Coordinator, CFN) and Dr Olayiwola Ajileye.
Governor Fashola attended the ceremony with frontline members of his cabinet, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, Hon. Commissioner for Tourism, Mr Opeyemi Bamidele, Hon. Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Jide Sanwo-Olu, Hon. Commissioner for Establishments and Training. Amongst other dignitaries in attendance was Mr Richard Taylor of Damilola Taylor Project, Dr Alistair Soyode, Chairman, BEN Television, Mr Temi Olusanya, Chairman BRF Forum UK, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, CEO, SOKOA Chair Centre/Dragon’s Den, Mr Kunle Sonola and Ahonsi Unuigbe.
The hall stood in rapturous applause when this Extra-ordinary Nigerian mother who distinguished herself by single-handedly raising a set of Quadruplets to the zenith of moral and academic excellence in the inner city of London, to the wide acclaim of the entire British Media and Education establishment, despite the prevalence of youth crime, adolescent underachievement, gang and knife violence which has been associated with people from the black ethnic community.
In presenting the award to her, Governor Fashola expressed how excited he was when he read about her story back in September 2008 and how with despatch, he promptly requested his Senior Special Assistant, (Admin and Strategy) Ms Moji Rhodes, to collaborate with Champions for Nigeria in facilitating a successful award ceremony in London.
He remarked how inspired he was by her dedication, sacrifice and parental skills and how her hardwork and achievement milestones can be an immense source of positive challenge to other Nigerians, particularly mothers, home and abroad, simply in line with his earlier speech titled ‘The Power of a Million Nigerians’ (making reference to the estimated Nigerian population residing in the UK) in shaping Nigeria’s destiny and partcipation in the ongoing modernisation efforts of his government.
He remarked “this is the story of one of those one million Nigerians, instead of the story of crime and corruption, this is a story of excellence. I really appreciate what you are doing and what you have done”. Also remarking was Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, who could not hide his excitement that, a Nigerian mother has raised children single handedly in the UK, to make Nigeria proud. He remarked “This is a true Nigerian success story in the Diaspora, we should be promoting this kind of achievements”.
While recieving the award, Julianah Oke, who was overwhelmed with joy and pride that her efforts in raising good and stable children against all odds is being recognised by her father land. She quickly noted also the blaze trailing gesture of His Excellency as the first ever Governor to give an award to an Individual Nigerian in the Diaspora, rather than coming to collect an award from the Diaspora group.
It was an open testament to the unarguable good leadership and governance style of Gov Fashola amongst many of his qualities and also an indication of his governments willingness to patriotically promote anything good about Nigeria. Julianah Oke became an instant toast of all celebrating her, with different media group justling to have a peice of her to air her views about the Governor’s speech and how she pull this outstanding and unique achievement.
She was quick to emphasise the valuable role played by Champions for Nigeria in nominating her for the BRF Award and promoting her achievements home and abroad. In her acceptance remark, she quoted Vince Lombardi, “the qualities of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence” and dedicated the award to all other hardworking families, unsung heroes of Nigeria home and away doing every little they can tothat we raise productive children and pillars of the society and that our country achieve and maintain its steady progress towards socio-economic emnacipation and development befiting of a nation of talented people.
The audience were pleased to hear that, this remarkable Nigerian mother, in addition to her efforts within her home in raising good children, also runs a Nursery, (Rainbow Nursery) sharing her skills in helping other familes raise their wards and employ others within her organisation mentoring other young citizens. In her modest way, she summarises everything in one of her response to the press that “it is not where you live, but how you live”, emphasising that, living and leading a good and examplary lifestyle inspires our youngsters to have positive ambition and pursue more productive endeavours.
The BRF Award, amongst many other laudable programme of this administration, is an initiative of His Excellency, Gov Fashola and it is an open testament to his vibrant and progressive approach to governance as a facilitator of positive change and enterprising citizenry. Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria! Long Live Champions for Nigeria!! Once again, Nigerians in the Diaspora and CFN wants to congratulate Champion Julianah Oke for this laudable award.
Story Reproduced by Tosan Aduayi for Trendy Africa Publications
Tosan Aduayi is the founder of www.trendyafrica.com as well as the Publisher of Trendy Africa Magazine