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Opinion: National Honours, For The Deserving & The Unworthy


Though the National Honours for 2010-2011 have been conferred on “deserving” individuals, Nigerians have not stopped making comments about the awards.
While in some quarters, the honours are seen as rewards for friends and associates of the Jonathan administration, some people have opined that it can hardly be said that merit was the only criterion used in deciding who the recipients should be. The likes of Professor Chinua Achebe and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who rejected the awards might also have earned themselves places in history as Nigerians of high integrity.
Though the President attempted an explanation as to why Alhaji Aliko Dangote was given the Grand Commander of the Niger award, which had hitherto been exclusively reserved for Vice Presidents, Senate Presidents and senior justices, a lot of Nigerians are not convinced. The President’s claim that “Dangote has employed thousands of Nigerians’ is quite true, but how come the likes of Professor Achebe who through their facilitated the academic achievements of countless Nigerians were pencilled for lesser honours?
Achebe had stated that he rejected the award just like he did in 2004 because the problems that should have been addresses have been left unattended to. Gbajabiamila, the present Minority Leader of the House of Representatives on the other hand stated that he did not see himself as deserving the award. What could be truer? Gbajabiamila was elected as Minority Leader just months ago, just like the Honourable Speaker and no one can confidently say in the respective offices they occupy, they have recorded “outstanding” achievements. The Honourable Speaker, Tambuwal was one of the recipients at the ceremony.
While Governors Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa (Kaduna), Ibrahim Shehu Shema (Katsina), Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Adams Oshiomole were conferred with Commander of the Niger (CON) awards, one cannot but wonder why Babatunde Fashola, who is generally acknowledged to have performed well was left out.
Many Nigerians also fall into the category of those who believe that the honours conferred on the service chiefs were done using criteria other than merit; in spite of the security situation which effectively restricted Mr. President’s movement within the confines of the Aso Rock Villa on Independence day, all the service chiefs and even the Director General of the State Security Service, as well as the Inspector General of Police whose men have been severely battered by the infamous Boko Haram terrorists all got honoured as Commanders of the Federal Republic (CFR).
It is still a cause of worry for many that while the 5 youth corpers who lost their lives in the post election violence have been buried and almost forgotten, those who were saddled with the responsibility of protecting them were deemed fit for awards. Incidentally, every other aspect of the ceremony went well save for the shortage of medals and certificates. That might also have shown the lack of preparations on the path of the Government; the organisers of the event. If items such as medals for 366 minus two people cannot be well calculated, prepared and managed, it should not come as a surprise when economic, security and other issues are fraught with lackadaisical approaches from the Government and its officials.

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