President Goodluck Jonathan
Muhammad Bello and Senator Iroegbu
President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the National Honours Committee to compile a list of persons conferred with National Honours whose integrity have come to question since their investiture.
The president, at the investiture of 155 people with the National Honours, including the Chairman, Globacom Limited, Dr. Mike Adenuga, who received the nation’s second highest honour – Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) – Monday in Abuja, said the Federal Government would withdraw the honours from those whose names make the list.
The initial list of 149 was increased to 155 with the inclusion of the six Paralympics gold medallists in the just-concluded London 2012 Paralympics where the country won a total of 13 medals, including six gold medals.
The president’s directive was apparently made in deference to public opinion over the need to sanitise the national honours list in view of the indictment of some of the recipients for corruption as well as the arraignment and conviction of some for fraud-related offences.
He had last month asked the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, to compile the names of honourees with blemished integrity.
Last July, the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on the Near Collapse of the Capital Market, had also recommended in its report that former bank managing directors such as Mrs. Cecilia Ibru and Erastus Akingbola, who had been convicted for fraud or were facing charges of fraud, be stripped of their National Honours.
Others who might have their awards withdrawn are a former Inspector General of Police (IG), Tafa Balogun, former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Deputy Chairman, Chief Bode George, and former Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori.
Jonathan also seized the occasion to defend the conferment of the GCON, an honour hitherto reserved for top-ranking government officials, on a private citizen like Adenuga.
The president, who stressed the need for a new ethical order in order to change the course of Nigeria, urged Nigerians to imbibe the virtue of patriotism and service to fatherland.
He said: “I have directed the National Honours Committee to compile a list of persons conferred with National Honours but that their current credibility is questionable. If they are found wanting, our prestigious honours will be withdrawn.
“This is essential in ensuring that holders of National Honours are truly worthy representations of our national values and honour, and especially are patriotic Nigerians or real friends of Nigeria.”
Jonathan, who decorated the honourees at a colourful ceremony in Abuja, said the conferment of GCON on Adenuga was in recognition of his contributions to the growth and development of the nation's economy over the years.
He described Adenuga’s feat as a remarkable one spanning the country and beyond, stressing that it must be celebrated to encourage other Nigerians to tread similar path of creating jobs for unemployed Nigerians.
“Mike Adenuga Jnr. has contributed immensely as a businessman and an entrepreneur to the growth and development of our economy. He worked hard to establish Globacom as an international communications company, which provides a means of livelihood to over 100,000 Nigerians.
“Today, across Ghana and Benin Republic, he has built a formidable brand, and is expanding footholds in Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal. We will continue to honour our businessmen who do us proud in the world of international business, while creating jobs at home,” the president said.
He rallied Nigerians to reposition the country by engaging in value re-orientation and confidence rebuilding in the nation's polity.
He stressed the urgent need to “embrace positive attitudinal change in our collective resolve to make Nigeria a great nation.”
He further recalled how during the inception of his administration last year, he had called on Nigerians to join hands with him in a bid to transform Nigeria.
“We initiated a wide-range of political and social initiatives as well as new economic policies. Most of them are beginning to bear fruit. Others will take a little more time but we are definitely on the right path.
“Our economy is steadily delivering on the key targets, including non-inflationary growth, improved and steady power delivery, rapid transformation of the agricultural sector and bold steps towards employment generation and wealth creation.
“To sustain their rebound and reposition the environment, we need to engage in value re-orientation and confidence rebuilding in the polity. There is therefore the urgent need for us all to embrace positive attitudinal change in our collective resolve to make Nigeria a great nation.
“For nothing can be greater than serving the nation with a strong sense of patriotism, honesty, integrity, pride and dedication. Whether in the public sector, National Assembly, judiciary, private sector, educational institution, civil society, press, sports, security agencies or our communities, we must celebrate achievers, who labour selflessly for the good of our nation,” he said.
The president commended the chairman and members of the 2012 National Honours Committee and the event organisers for a job well done, urging them to continue to be guided by the principle of faithfulness and integrity as well as the pursuit of excellence during the screening process of the prospective awardees.
He also commended Muhammad Tahir Zakari, a Level 10 officer in the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, who showed “remarkable honesty in returning an error payment to him of over N6 million in November 2011.
Speaking on behalf of the honourees, a judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Mary Odili, thanked the committee for finding them worthy of being honoured by “a grateful nation.”
She promised that rather than relenting, they would work harder in their various fields of endeavour to justify the confidence reposed in them.
A Paralympics gold medallist and the designer of an electrical car, Mr. Jelani Aliyu, stole the show at the award ceremony, which is in its 30th year.
Aliyu designed the “Chevy-Volt”, the first world electric car, which has been described as an American revolution and the hottest concept in the design line. The car was test driven by President Barrack Obama of the United States.
Earlier, Anyim had in his welcome address, noted that the National Honours Award was informed by the need to recognise success, achievement, gallantry, honesty, and exemplary character in the life of the nation.
Also, in his remarks, the Chairman of the 2012 National Award Committee, Justice Alfa Belgore, said the event was to honour 155 Nigerians and friends of Nigeria, noting that a total of 4,424 had so far been recognised and honoured since the inception of the nation’s honour list in 1963.
The GCON category had only one recipient in the person of Adenuga while there were 11 recipients for the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR).
The Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) had 25 recipients; Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR) - 24; Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) - 38; Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) – 38; and Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) - 18.
Of those listed for investiture, one person, Alhaji Sani Abubakar Danladi, the embattled deputy governor of Taraba State, was dropped at the last minute as his name was skipped during the presentation.
He is facing an impeachment process back in his state. Danladi who was listed for the award of Order of the Federal Republic, was believed to have fallen out with his principal, Governor Danbaba Danfulani Suntai, who was honoured with the CON award.
Justices Kayode Eso and Andrews Obaseki, both retired justices, were absent. Also absent was Senator Abdul Ahmed Ningi but unlike the retired jurists, Ningi was represented by his wife.
Meanwhile, security was tight in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and around the investiture venue as no one was allowed to walk into the venue of the ceremony.
All the honourees and two members from each of their families were conveyed in an air-conditioned bus from Eagle Square to the venue.
As part of the security arrangement, accreditation of the awardees was done at the Agura Hotel, about one kilometre from the venue of the event.