Chief James Ume, founder and chairman of Unubiko Foundation, has been honoured with the “The Sun Newspapers Humanitarian Service Icon Award 2022” one of the biggest recognitions by The Sun Publishing Company Ltd, publishers of The Sun Newspaper titles.
Ume received the award alongside 25 other eminent Nigerians in a well-attended ceremony at the Expo Convention Centre, Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Saturday.
Speaking on the award, the managing director/editor-in-chief of The Sun Newspapers, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh said Mr. Ume was honoured for his humanitarian gestures to the society.
According to Ukeh: “As a way of giving back to the society, he set up the Unubiko Foundation to reach out and give hope to the needy. Ever since, he has made giving a culture, which has been demonstrated without boundaries.
“Last month, he handed over a customary court rebuilt at the cost of over N150 million to an Abia community. He also handed over a Presbyterian Church he rebuilt, women development centre, and Ovukwu-Abam Secondary School, Atan-Abam, a project which costs him over N500 million.
“He has empowered hundreds of widows, awarded no fewer than 200 scholarships for students in Arochukwu Local Government Area of Abia State, paid WAEC fees for all students in Atan-Abam in 2020, and donated 100 brand new laptops to trainees in digital economy.
“He has also provided transformers to aid rural electrification, financed 44 boreholes for the 27 villages that make up Abam, among other philanthropic projects.
“In 2020, at the peak of COVID-19, he distributed PPEs to all the communities in Abam, Arochukwu LGA of Abia State, donated PPEs to Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Umuahia, donated books worth over N6 million to the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) national secretariat as well as the Abia and Abuja Councils, paid medical bills for the indigenes and sponsored several journalism capacity building trainings.”
While thanking the publishers of the newspaper for finding him worthy of the award, Ume described the honour as a huge responsibility and a privilege which will spur him to do more for humanity.
“I believe we are serving humanity; we are serving God; so, we don’t need any self-seeking attention. When you give to people, you are giving back to God.
“As a media owner, it was easy to have taken the path of self-adulation but that would have defeated the essence of setting up the foundation to impact meaningfully on the lives of others quietly.
“It is a surprise that The Sun Newspapers discovered what we are doing to help humanity, because we have been working quietly.
“On behalf of my late mother, my dear wife, my children and those who have donated to what we are doing, I thank you. We have a lot more projects ongoing. This award is a clarion call to do even more as a foundation in serving our people and humanity.”
Some of the notable personalities who were also honoured at the ceremony included: Enugu State governor, Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Douye Diri (Bayelsa), Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa), Darius Ishaku (Taraba) and the group chief executive officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mallam Mele Kyari.
Northern youths hail Ume
Meanwhile, the Arewa Youth Assembly (AYA) has congratulated Chief Ume for receiving The Sun Award.
In a statement in Kaduna, the group also announced the conferment of a traditional title, “Garkuwan Matasan Nijeriya” on the Abia-born philanthropist.
The statement signed by Mohammed Danlami, spokesman of the group, described the Ume as, “a unifier, bridge builder and a role model to Nigerian youths.”
The group further described Ume as a blessing to humanity and called on wealthy Nigerians to emulate him for his love and sacrifices for humanity.
“Let me on behalf of Arewa Youth Assembly use this medium to celebrate and congratulate Chief James Ume (Ike Abam), founder and Chairman of Unubiko foundation, for clinching The Sun Newspapers Humanitarian Service Icon Award for 2022.
“Every moment with you is an opportunity to learn how to serve humanity, that is only what gives you joy”, the statement reads.
“You are detribalised, caring, always trying to be of assistance to everyone you meet.
“You always bear the zeal to bring peace and happiness on every face and your enormous sacrifice to embrace every one irrespective of ethnicity, class and religion is another angelic character of yours.
“Most important about you is the simple fact that you are humble and down to earth. You believe we can only make Nigeria greater if we work together as a formidable team.”
The group noted that, Unubiko Foundation had touched the lives of many downtrodden people across the nation.
“As you continue to serve humanity in your usual magnanimity and equanimity, more awards, reward and encomiums will continue to be showered on you.”