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National Award: A Celebration Of Mediocrity

18 September 2012, 11:13

The just released list of 149 Nigerians of high standing so to say according to the federal government, to be conferred with the prestigious national honours by Mr. President is laughable. Asked by a close friend of mine few hours after the list was released, I told him that it was nothing but a political jamboree.

Why should the president honour some of these men and women that have impoverished the country the more? What extra ordinary achievements have they with respect to national development? My understanding of eminent is somebody of high standing in achievement which is easy to see or notice. Can this be said of all these people penned down for national honours as it concerns Nigeria as a country? I therefore disagree with the president or whoever that came up with that list saying that they are eminent Nigerians.

Apparently, I agree with Prof. Pat Utomi when he said: “I already have my position on this and I don’t intend to change it. For me, a real honour is when you go to a village, find a headmaster who for 30 to 40 years worked so diligently, and you also look for 200 to 300 personalities who had become professors or doctors who might not have been anything but for the diligence of that headmaster. That is a person you award a CFR and not some egomaniac who have stolen from this and never add value to it”. With this, it will be unreasonable for any rational thinking person to criticize such award because it is a rare feat to achieve.

The national award as we all see today is now politicized. If not, why are they not given to credible people who have diligently served this country? In fact, calling it a national award is a big insult on our intelligence. A more befitting name should be ‘the president and friends’ award.

The manner these awards are given to non deserving men and women could not encourage the younger generation to putting greater efforts towards achieving excellence in their chosen careers. 

How could they be giving over 100 people national honours every year and claim it is for rare achievement and yet it could not translate to national development? I think in my own opinion that the number has to be cut down to about 20 or there about to redeem its image. Also, it should be done every four years instead of the present annual ceremony it is made.

The other time, it was Aliko Dangote who was awarded with GCON originally meant for Vice president and this time, it the turn of Mike Adenuga. What exactly is the criterion/criteria for giving these awards?

The national honours that are supposed to inspire the younger generation to excel for the country, but thieves are the ones who get national honours in Nigeria, one of the main reasons eminent Nigerians like Prof. Chinua Achebe rejected the same award last term. The award has lost credibility and the much needed relevance.

Carefully reading the just released list,I found the names of some politicians with questionable antecedents. From the manner this awards are shared, one may be right to think that the president is pay back the sponsors of his elections and buying in advance for 2015.general elections. Does that mean that no common man deserves these honours?

It is a regrettable lapse that the government didn’t consider the recent expressions of disappointment of Nigerians with the award and make necessary amends in the list. Instead, it is a mixture of people, many of whom have played negative roles in the gradual development of the nation till this moment that we have almost a country.

Little wonder the president said that he was the most criticized president and he was not bothered about it because the masses must talk. The entire process of awarding national honours should be reviewed to ensure that only competent, eminent, and well deserving Nigerians get the award in the future and by so doing only people with requisite integrity will be awarded. The federal government should set a well defined criterion for giving this award so that Nigerians will be the judge of who is supposed to get what award. A friend said that he would not be surprised to see Ibori’s name on the list next year.

The whole process, I think should be reformed so as to add credibility and not just dignifying mediocrity as it has always been. Does the international community regard these awards?

Finally, I think that it is more justifiable to include the names of our Paralympians in the just concluded London Paralympics who made the nation proud by registering the country’s name in the medals’ sheet.

When will we ever get it right?

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