ABUJA – President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday said he had directed the National Honours Award Committee (NHAC) to compile the list of honourees with the aim of stripping those with “questionable credibility”.
Jonathan made this known at the 2012 National Honours Award Investiture held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
He said the move was to ensure that holders of the honours did not fall short of the collective expectations of Nigerians. “We are convinced that the National Honours Award is a very important part of the symbols of the country’s values and pride.
"Whilst government is always pleased to admit deserving persons into the ranks of those honoured by Nigeria, all holders must not fall short of our collective expectations. The dignity, honour and respect of the National Honours must never be tarnished.
“In light of the foregoing, I have directed that the National Honours Committee compile a list of persons conferred with the 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“If they are found wanting, our prestigious Honours will be withdrawn.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 nation, chains of values and honour, and especially are patriotic Nigerians or real friends of our dear land.’’
Jonathan also directed the award committee to expand the scope of the search for recipients to include all strata of the society
He noted that the total of 4430 recipients of categories of the award since inception in 1963 was not enough, adding that many more Nigerians deserved the recognition.
The President urged all citizens to join hands with the government to transform the country and called on the people to engage in acts that would promote value re-orientation, confidence rebuilding and positive attitudinal change.
Speaking on the recipients, Jonathan said they cut across far and wide and had distinguished themselves as icons and examples to all.
The President singled out Muhammad Zakari, a senior information officer on GL 10 in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation for his honesty.
Zakari, who was decorated with the Members of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) medal, was honoured for returning a N6 million payment made to him in error in November 2011.
Dr Mike Adenuga the CEO of Globacom, was decorated with the highest honour among all the recipients; Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).
Jonathan said Adenuga contributed immensely as a businessman and entrepreneur, to the growth and development of the economy.
“He worked hard to establish Globacom as an international communication company which provides means of livelihood to over 100,000 Nigerians.
‘’Today across Ghana, Benin Republic, he has built a formidable brand and is expanding footholds in Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal.’’
Adenuga is the second person from the private sector to be decorated with the honour of GCON.
It will be recalled that the President broke a jinx at the 2011 Award ceremony when he honoured business mogul, Aliko Dangote, with, GCON, the second highest award in all the categories.
The award was hitherto exclusively reserved for Vice Presidents, Senate Presidents and Chief Justices of Nigeria.
The six Paralympian gold medalists at the just concluded Paralympic Games in London were decorated with the award of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) .
The President said they were recognised for hard work and for lifting the hope of the nation at the mundial.
The paralympians who had earlier been given N5 million cash reward were Biji Loveline, Ivory Nwokorie, Esther Oyema, Joy Onaolapo, Anozie Grace and Yakubu Adesokan.
Jonathan congratulated the recipients and implored them to sustain the tempo of their performances and be mentors to the young ones.
Earlier, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim, said the recipients were subjected to thorough scrutiny by the Award Committee before approval by the President.
Chairman of Committee and retired Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Alfa Belgore, said they set new standard in the nomination process and urged that it should be sustained.
He challenged the recipients to see the awards as motivation to work harder in contributing to national development.
Belgore underscored the need for government and well-meaning Nigerians particularly in the private sector to harness the abundant natural and human resources of the country to maximum benefits.
A total of 155 recipients were decorated with six of the eight statutorily recognized categories of honours.