National Assembly Complex
A bill seeking to shore up the credibility of the National Honours Award scaled through the second reading stage Tuesday in the House of Representatives as lawmakers voted unanimously for it.
The bill scaled through just as the House passed a motion condemning last weekend’s killings in Kaduna and urged the Inspector General of Police to investigate the incident and bring the culprits to book.
In specific terms, the amendment bill seeks to amend the Honours Warrant of the Subsidiary Legislation of the National Honours Act. Cap. 43 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to provide for a limit to the numbers of persons appointed to the different ranks of the Order in any given year.
Minority Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila (ACN/Lagos), who sponsored the bill canvassed that the list of awardees should be published in two national newspapers at least two months to the award ceremony.
The publication is to enable members of the public make their opinions known on the calibre of person nominated for the awards.
According to Gbajabiamila, the input of the citizenry is important because the awards being given actually belong to the people and is conferred on the awardees by the President on behalf of the citizens.
The bill also seeks to change the standard that is required for any prospective recipient of the award.
Presently, all one requires to receive the award is to distinguish oneself in the public service.
Gbajabiamila said that rather than restricting it to the public service, the legislation should be made available to anyone with “extra-ordinary achievement” in both the public service and private sector.
He said the emphasis on extra ordinary achievement is to raise the bar and make the National Honours Award recipients wear it like a badge of honour.
Chairman, House Committee on Local Content, Hon. Asita Honourable, said even the proposal of a hundred awardees per year was too much and not good enough tool to raise the standards.
Asita said that the honour should be reserved for a few who make uncommon contributions to national development.
He argued that it did not make sense giving out the honours to people simply on the basis that they happen to occupy public offices.
He blamed most of the troubles of the National Honours Award on the application of quota system and federal character principles into the selection of awardees.
Others who contributed to the debate include Hon. Geofrey Gaya, Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, Hon Chris Eta and Hon Uzo Azubuike.
In a unanimous vote, the bill was passed and referred to the House Committee on Governmental Affairs.
Also Tuesday, the House passed through the second reading a bill seeking the establishment of the Coastal Erosion and Flood Control Commission.
The said body, when established, will be charged with the responsibility of managing the menace of flood and coastal erosion in the country.
A third bill seeking the prohibition of movement of certain articulated vehicles on Nigerian roads from 6.00am to 6.00pm also scaled second reading. The bill has been referred to the House Committees on Justice and Federal Road Safety Commission.