CRITICISMS As Buhari’s Men, Others Get National Awards

CRITICISMS on Sunday trailed the publication of the names of those to be conferred national honours by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

The President is set to honour 437 persons, including seven foreigners, at Nigeria’s National Honours Awards 2022 scheduled for October 11 at the State House, Abuja.

The list of nominees, which has now gone viral on the Internet, has however generated criticisms, especially over the calibre of people nominated for the awards.

Civil Society Organisations, who spoke to The PUNCH on Sunday, condemned the dominance of politicians as nominees, arguing that more Nigerians are deserving the awards.

The recipients include politicians, public servants, businessmen, scholars, security officers, senior lawyers, traditional and religious leaders as well as deceased persons.

Speaking on the nominations, the President of YIAGA Foundation, Samson Itodo, said, “The President has the prerogative to confer national awards on Nigerians, or individuals who have contributed to national development, and who have also distinguished themselves.

“Those given these awards, ideally, should be icons that people see and revere and want to emulate those qualities that they have. But if you give these awards to people who, morally, don’t have the capital to hold those awards, Nigerians would not recognise or take those seriously.”

According to Itodo, Buhari, with those nominated, missed the opportunity to display qualities of impartiality and non-partisanship, forge unity and show leadership as the father of the nation, who had an interest in the development of all regions of the country.

Also, the Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Dare-Ariyo Atoye, noted that there should be guidelines for choosing the awardees.

Dare-Ariyo cited the exclusion of a former President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, from the recipients’ list.

He said, “The national award should not be an award that should be used to settle political scores. It should not be an award for vendetta. It should not be an award to serve narrow interests. But it should be an award to indeed appreciate the ingenuity of selected Nigerians, who have served the country meritoriously, so that carriers of these awards can be seen as ambassadors of this country, based on values, based on good deeds.”

In the GCON category are President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; the new Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola; the immediate past CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad; Director-General, World Trade Organisation, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; and Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, Amina Mohammed.