By NBF News

Senator Uche Chukwumerije has condemned the mode of selection of 50 distinguished Nigerians given presidential honour in the spirit of the nation's golden jubilee anniversary, saying it is not only unsatisfactory but also an insult to the intelligence of the Nigerian people.

The former Minister of Information faulted the exclusion of notable Igbo leaders that played major historic roles in the attainment of Nigeria's independence such as the Premier of Eastern region, Dr Michael Okpala, Nigeria's first Senate President and Acting President when the first military coup took place in 1966, Dr. Nwafor Orizu, as well as the celebrated mathematician, Prof. Chike Obi.

In a letter addressed to 'distinguished Nigerians-friends of Nigeria golden jubilee special presidential awards,' the senator representing Abia North said the criteria for such selection were not explicitly stated and published.

Wondering how the criteria for the selection were reached, the senator asked: 'Is it pioneer status in the sense of the first to emerge since 1960 in a given field? Or the critical impact of an individual's endeavour on the development of a given sector? Or class or school-mate categorization of founders of the nation? Or academic/intellectual eminence? Or eminence of office of an occupant?'

According to him, 'none or a combination of these criteria explains the inclusion of certain individuals or the exclusion of some others. Why, for instance, was Michael Okpara omitted while all other Premiers were included? Or why was Prof. Chike Obi, our pioneer Mathematician internationally celebrated by academic peers, omitted? Or Dr. Nwafor Orizu, the first Senate President of the First Republic and Acting President on several occasions were omitted?'

Chukwumerije further argued that it was difficult to escape the conclusion that the criteria were subordinated to the ever-overriding factor of federal character. According to him, 'this limiting factor was naturally compounded by other congenital Nigeria factors - the same factors that have reduced our National Honours Awards list to a comedy script.'