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BASTARDISING THE NATIONAL HONOURS

By NBF News
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There is no doubt that Nigerian press is among the best and freest in the world. There is nothing under the sun that escapes its prying eyes. It wages war against corruption, scam, injustice, illegalities, armed robbery, kidnapping, child trafficking, embezzlement and all kinds of pen robberies and manipulations.

I was indeed moved by a Newspaper editorial of 3rd August 2010, on bastardizing the national honours award. In the past five years, men of questionable character who are corruption personified inconsequential men, men who have nothing to show in building a decent Nigerian national have been smuggled into the honours list only on the basis of as man know man.

Our amiable and respected President and Commander-in-Chief of Nigerian Armed Forces, His Excellency Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan openly attacked the mode of selection of people qualified for honours award during the last national honours award. He called for a review of the criteria for the award in accordance with the National Honours Act No. 5 of 1964.

The award is meant for people who have meritoriously rendered valuable services to the nation and not for those who have notoriously bled the nation and manipulated their way to wealth. It is not meant for people who collude with state governors to loot the treasury of their states under spurious contract awards.. It is not meant for parliamentarians who spend their days in parliament chasing contracts and bribe even without their names appearing in the hansard for any issue whatsoever.

It is not meant for politicians who go about bribing their way through primaries for gubernatorial elections and jumping from one political party to another or for the purposes of going to parliament to recoup their expenses and embezzle more funds. A politician who was heavily involved in a large scale public fraud with many of his companies and who made the list of 2009 honours award should be delisted even with their numerous criminal charges by EFCC currently in court. I need not repeat the truism enunciated by the newspaper editorial mentioned above but suffice it to say that there is no place for crooks to hide in this nation and they should be vilified and not glorified.

On the other hand, the National Honours Award Committee should cast askance on men and women who have served this nation during the first republic and are still alive and who worked devotedly for this nation and appeared to have been forgotten. Some served as parliamentary secretaries and later as full cabinet ministers like chief Mbazulike Amechi (the Boy is good, a name given to him by the first President of Nigeria, Late Rt the Hon Dr Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Owelle of Onitsha) and his contemporaries.

They meritoriously deserve the honour. In the same category are retired captains of industry, acclaimed academics and other professionals who have contributed a lot to enhancement of professionalism and emancipation of the nation. The following points should be borne in mind when considering any applicant for national honours whether the applicant has helped to create, add or enhance value in our national system, made discoveries or inventions, engaged in an heroic or patriotic act in sports, soccer and other games, whether he has played any role in enhancing national prestige etc.

Nigerians want to know what qualified the awardees for a national honour. In this respect, it becomes imperative that the prospective awardees should be published in national newspapers for reaction by the public to help identify those making false claims. Enough is enough for clandestine award of national honours.