Four Nigerians were on Monday in Abuja not only given Nigeria National Honours in recog nition of their exemplary conduct, dedication to duty and service to the country by President Goodluck Jonathan but they also got other incentives.
Three of four Nigerians- Michael Onuh, a presidential steward, Imeh Usuah, a taxi driver, Corporal Solomon Dauda, a traffic warden were ordered to be given a house each while Taiwo Akinkumi, the designer of Nigeria’s national flag was ordered to be placed on the salary of a special assistant to the President by Jonathan.
The houses (flats) were to be given to the honourees by Alhaji Bala Mohammed, the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
The gifts are in addition to the national awards of Member of the Order of the Niger conferred on the four honourees. The four honourees were among the 313 “Nigerians and friends of Nigeria” who received national honours on Monday, received the goodies, in the words of the President for displaying “the true Nigerian spirit.”
President Jonathan conferred Nigeria National Honours award on 313 Nigerians and foreigners who have contributed to the development of the country in one way or the other. Leading the pack of 25 honourees awarded with the Commander of Federal Republic, CFR, the highest honour given out this year was the Air Chief Marshall Alex Sabundu Badeh, the Chief of Defence Staff, the three service chiefs and the Inspector General of Police.
A total of 60 persons were conferred with Commander of the Order of Niger, 54 got the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic; 63 received the Officer of the Order of the Niger; 53 were presented with Member of the Order of the Niger; and 56 got Member of the Order of the Niger while there was one recipient each for the Federal Republic Medal (First Class) and Federal Republic Medal (Second Class) respectively.
The recipients include serving Judges and Supreme Court Justices, top lawyers, incumbent and former governors, traditional rulers, politicians, businessmen athletes, entertainers and other distinguished Nigerians. Also, members of the 2013 World Cup winning Nigeria U-17 team, their coaches and management team as well as gold medalist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Blessing Okagbare.
Leading the pack of friends of Nigeria honourees, in the category of friends of Nigeria was a Saudi Arabian investor, Prince Al-Waleed Bin Tawal who was conferred with the award of CFR, though he was listed in the OFR category. It was gathered that President Jonathan had insisted on the conferment of the national award on the Saudian Arabian Prince who had invested over $100 billion in Nigeria.
Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State who was listed for the award of Commander of Niger, CON was absent and not represented at the ceremony. It was not clear whether he deliberately kept away at the ceremony because of the current crises rocking his State.
Speaking after conferring the award on the recipient, President Jonathan said the national honours ceremony is annual ritual of renewal through which the country connects with its higher values. “A nation is void and soulless if it does not have those sacred values that it holds dear and individuals which project them.”
The President added that the problems facing the country are as a result of neglect of value system.
“I believe one of reasons our society is not at peace is that we have neglected our ennobling traditional value system. We must get back those time honoured values so that we can live right. This is what the national honour seeks to do.”
Senator Pius Anyim, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation had earlier explained that the number of honourees for this year award was high because the investiture did not hold last year.
Justice S.M.A Belgore, the Chairman of National Awards said recipients of the award were carefully selected in appreciation of their invaluable contribution to the country.