Why the Plateau Man of the Year Awards was Initiated – Amb. Cletus Akhimien

By: Labaran Ahmed

Cletus Akhimien is a Peace Ambassador as bestowed by YALI, an organization under the United Nations for his contributions to peace building and unity on the Plateau, and also as the Executive Director, COA Media; the organizers of the Plateau Man of the Year Awards/ Nigeria Service Awards

In this interview with Global News, Cletus bares his mind on Plateau Man of the Year Awards, its challenges and successes as well as many other issues. Some Excerpts include:

Global News: You are into presenting awards to deserving people, can you shed light on COA Media and the Plateau Man of the Year Awards?

Ambassador Cletus Akhimien: Yes, I am the team leader at COA Media; a registered Company basically into Event Management and Planning, Publishing and Media Consultancy. Part of our responsibilities as an event organizer is the Plateau Man of the Year Awards, which we have been doing for the past 9 years. Though we have been organizing award ceremonies for over 9 years, but the Plateau Man of the Year Awards came into light in 2015. Before then, we have been organizing Award Events in Mangu Local Government in Plateau State as far back as 2007.

We started presenting awards in those places under the acronym “MOFOYE” which represents MOBILIZATION FOR YOUTH EMPOWERMENT. We organized awards and Seminars around 2006/2007 in Mangu Local Government Area.

Creating this Platform was highly necessitated when we saw the manner in which people appreciated what we were doing, and so we decided to change the name from “MOFOYE” to Plateau Man of the Year Awards.

Global News: We learnt that Plateau Man of the Year Awards is one of the most prestigious awards event on the Plateau, what makes it so special?

Ambassador Cletus Akhimien: The truth is that, the Plateau Man of the Year Awards is really one of the most prestigious awards on the Plateau without any exaggeration, because of the vision and idea behind its conception primarily.

I had a friend whose father died and we all went for his burial, and people showered accolades, talked about the man’s good deeds and the great things he had done and all that. I was sitting among the crowd and then I asked myself, when he was alive were all these great things said to him? Then I had the idea to celebrate people when they are alive and not when they are dead.

So, this is the whole idea that birthed the Plateau Man of the Year Awards, that is, let’s begin to celebrate people while they are alive and not when they are dead. This vision is one that has kept us going for the past 9-10 years in total at the Plateau Man of the Year Awards Organizer.

The whole concept and idea is to celebrate people and to let them know that people are watching the little things that they are doing and they appreciate them. That is why in the Plateau Man of the Year Awards, we subject the nomination process to public participation because we can’t know everyone who has done great things within Plateau State and beyond.

When people in Mangu see the advert for nomination, one or two persons there can be nominated. When people from Gindiri see it, people in Langtang, people in Pankshin and wherever they see the advert for the nomination of an individual who is contributing to the growth and development of Plateau State and Nigeria at large for different categories, they would nominate them.

We subject the process to nomination so that the coverage and participation will be wider, but like I said, one of the things that has kept us and is keeping this drive is the vision. We didn’t start giving out awards because we saw others doing it, no, that was not the idea, or because Mr. A is doing well in giving out awards, so let us also do it. No, it was conceived from a strong desire and conviction to celebrate men.

Global News: One of the reasons for giving out an award is to encourage a person to do more, so far, from the people you’ve been giving the awards, have you seen improvement in their endeavours?

Ambassador Cletus Akhimien: Yes, the truth is I don’t want to blow our trumpet, though I may not know where all of them are, but for the few that are domiciled within Plateau and Abuja, we have seen them grow. We see them doing better, we see them improving in the areas in which we gave them the awards. We have an idea to do a fact finding assessment.

In our assessment, we can say, let’s look at some of those people we are giving awards to in this area, let’s see, have they improved? By our research, I can’t say a 100%, but at least close to about 80% of the people we reached out to are happy, they are doing very well and they are improving in the area in which we gave them the award.

Global News: There is nothing good that does not come with challenges. So, what are your good times and what are your challenges?

Ambassador Cletus Akhimien: Our challenges are enormous. Plateau has over 3.5 million people, the highest number of award we have ever given in all is 45 per Year and we usually have over 2,000 nominations and everybody wants to be nominated and possibly be given an award, but that is not possible.

So, what we do is we consider the process in which an individual is nominated. Anytime we open up nomination, we usually state that reasons should be given why nominees qualify for the award because we can’t give you an award if we are not sure of what you have done.

That is why sometimes after the nomination, people begin to criticize us that we gave to people we like or to big elites and all that. No, that’s not true; there are processes and conditions for the award.

The number two challenge we have is the lack of support, It has been a big challenge. Though it’s an award, we expect that we get support from multinationals, from the government, from philanthropists and from past awardees, those who were beneficiaries of this project.

Sometimes people don’t want to follow due process for the nomination which has its own percentage. Whatever you submit as a write-up is going to be used in the process. The voting entirely is 50 percent, 20 percent goes to the nomination process and the other 30 percent goes through assessment and evaluation.

We look at what Mr. A is doing, is it tangible? Is it true because sometimes people just sit down and bring out rich profiles but on the course of going through, you’ll find out that what they wrote was a lie? We have developed a background check in our voting process; this is what we do every year.

We do not rest right from the time of nominations through the voting process, we usually make calls, we ask questions, we seek people’s opinions about the individuals’ nominations and these are tasks.

Many people don’t know what goes on in the background. We put all efforts to get an excellent end result. Even when we reach out, we don’t reach out to the nominees themselves. If you are nominated today, I will not come and ask you “Mr. Ibrahim, is it true that they said you achieved this and that?” No, we don’t do that.

We don’t interface directly with the awardees. We do that through the individuals that nominated them or through the general public. Also we can go through your profile; as we are in a global village or through your ward, local government and sometimes we engage independent researchers.

Global News: How is the reception of your efforts in the State, is it appreciable or not?

Ambassador Cletus Akhimien: To a large extent, I will appreciate a few individuals who appreciate what we are doing because you can’t say that in everything that you are doing nobody is thanking you, and also, if everybody is supporting you, then something is wrong.

One of the greatest things that really keeps us moving is the encouragement we receive from people. If we post for nomination you would see people thanking us for what we are doing, saying that it’s a laudable initiative. That sentence keeps us throughout the journey.

And some people who think they are qualified for the award and later don’t get it, always want to pull us down. They castigate and paint us in bad light before people. I don’t blame them and I have nothing against them, but the criticism and encouragements helps us in shaping our desires to become better on the Plateau.

If I tell you that there is no criticism, I lie. I want to use this medium to beg; please we should be constructive in our criticism, not poised to pull down people because you are not the one doing it. I say this to people, if today we are not organizing the Plateau Man of the Year award, would you come in and do better than we do? Will you be happy if there is no Platform anymore on the Plateau that recognizes and celebrates Plateau people or Plateau citizens every Year?

If it is not your turn today, that does not mean you can’t get it tomorrow.
I saw a young man who made a post on social Media saying, “one day, I shall also be a recipient of this Award”, I think this should be a boosting morale for everybody.

Yes, we might not be putting in our best, there is nothing wrong if you call us and say, I think if you do it this way it will be better; If you call or share your ideas and thoughts with us. To be sincere, we are always open to constructive criticism, contributions, sharing of ideas and thoughts. We are always open because for us we are building a brand new Plateau Man of the Year Award. This legacy will live after us, and that is our greatest desire.

Global News: How prepared are for this Year’s celebration of the Plateau Man of the Year Award?

Ambassador Cletus Akhimien: Yes, we have finished nomination. We have finished voting. We even did the final screening and winners have already emerged. We are preparing for the grand reception of the award and Gala Night. That is the stage we are in now before sending letters to those who successfully emerged for the 2023 nominations and voting for the Plateau Man of the Year Awards.

In the Plateau Man of the Year Award, there are two different types of categories. We have voting and non-voting categories. The non-voting category is given purely on merit, the voting category is also given on merit, but there are categories you can’t begin to assess and evaluate, so we agree to give to these people that deserve it.

The Star Category is called “The Plateau Man of the Year” category and for you to emerge as that, voting is necessary. For people to participate, the top two individuals who emerged will be presented to a jury then we begin to evaluate their achievements, their activities, their impacts and their contributions to Plateau State as a whole. Once this is done, the winner will then emerge. This is the stage every voting category goes through.

Global News: When are you going to celebrate this Year’s Plateau Man of the Year Awards?

Ambassador Cletus Akhimien: If God permits, and with your support, we are looking at 25th February, 2024 at Tamarald Events Center, Old Airport Rd, Jos.

Global News: Is it going to be a free event?

Ambassador Cletus Akhimien: No! It is not a free event, it’s strictly by invitation and table reservation.

We sell our tables, and we get a pass for the people to come and celebrate with the individual awardees.

Global News: can you tell us the gate fee and the VIP seats?

Ambassador Cletus Akhimien: Yeah, time would tell, thank you.