Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The 2011 National Honours: Matters Arising

Gbagaun! Gbagaun!! Gbagaun!! The Great 9ja's Oracle!! I was beginning to think you had deserted your people! Why have you woken me at such an hour when spirits are in Ekeukwu Owerri? Speak Oracle! Your servant and Mouth Piece is listening!!

Every year, via the Nigerian National Honors, 'deserving' Nigerians are granted recognition for supposedly having 'rendered services to the benefit of the nation'. These honors include, in descending order of importance:
  • Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR)
  • Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON)
  • Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR)
  • Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON)
  • Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR)
  • Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON)
  • Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR)
  • Member of the Order of the Niger (MON)

Over the years, it has become norm to automatically confer top honors (GCFR, GCON, CFR and CON) to equally top national office holders like presidents; vice presidents; Senate presidents; Speakers, House of Representatives; Chief Justices; etc. This set of people does not need to be of exceptional behaviour or to contribute significantly to the benefit of the nation; most of them are even known to have done great disservice to the nation via looting of public funds and blatant abuse of office. We have them in their numbers: Atiku Abubakar, GCON; Dimeji Bankole, CFR; Bode George, CON; Tafa Balogun, CFR; Senator Adolphus Wabara, GCON; etc. One may argue that, prior to their receiving these honors, they were honorable. Although this might be true, the fact still remains that they never did anything exceptional that was of benefit to the nation; so why were they honored in the first place?

Looking down the lower cadre of the National Honors, one cannot help but notice that; of late; it belongs to Nollywood Stars. Though this brings the award closer to the masses; truth be told; there is no reason why one should receive a national award for plying his trade and making money from it; there are loads of Nigerians doing that, the only difference now is that they are not on screens and are not stars. There are, however, world class stars from Nigeria who should inarguably be honored for presenting the country in the limelight with their talents.

The National Honors; asides being an avenue to give accolades to those who deserve them; should also serve as a source of motivation for every Nigerian. It should reek of meritocracy other than favoritism. It should cut across all social classes so that even a pauper, who had done something worth applauding, receives an award a la the United Kingdom Honors system. For now, the honors go to the rich and famous of society, and equally sends out the wrong message to the average Nigerian.

Now great Oracle, what can you say about Aliko Dangote being the first non-politician and non-government office holder to be conferred the GCON honors? Most Nigerians believe that he does not merit the honors and might have paid for it somehow as he is Africa's richest man...

Nigerians are so used to things being wrongly done that the right things appear strange...look at it this way: an average Nigerian should, by right, enjoy steady power supply, but he does not. He can go days or weeks without power supply and he may only complain in grunts because he is used to it. Let’s assume now that PHCN makes power available for 3 straight days, this Nigerian would get suspicious. He would wonder if it was that time of the month when PHCN comes for bills; if PHCN were trying to pre-compensate for a planned 3 year power outage or, worse still, if the world was coming to an end.

The GCON, being the next highest National Honors after the GCFR, has in the past gone to Vice Presidents, Senate Presidents and Chief Justices of Nigeria. Most of the past recipients had and still have little or nothing to offer Nigeria, yet they hold the second highest National Honors. This has been the norm since 1963 and this year, something different happened; Aliko Dangote was given that very honors (GCON)...and as expected, Nigerians have grown suspicious!

I would not go into judging Aliko Dangote to ascertain whether he deserves the honors or not, but the truth remains that he has contributed more to Nigeria than previous recipients who were honored just because they held or hold certain positions in government. We can also not refute the fact that he, more than any other Nigerian entrepreneur, has benefited from the government or that there are better suited Nigerians for such recognition.

For now, the National Honors are still mainly for politicians, government officials, the rich and famous of society. Honoring Dangote was, however, a clean break from the norm and I look forward to a National Honors which is devoid of class and which would honor those Nigerians who really deserve to be honored. If we had such sincere National Honors, those National Youth Service corps members; who risked their lives to see that the 2011 general elections went ahead even after their colleagues have been senselessly murdered; would have received top honors; the dead would also have been honored posthumously. As it presently is; there is  little or nothing honourable about the individuals holding the Nigerian National Honors.

The Oracle Has Spoken!!

1 comment :

  1. Nice expository Piece of article. Straight and raw though. The credibility of these honours is being bastardized. I don't know of other Nigerians but I see nothing interesting about these honors anymore. Sometimes i wonder if there is criteria for meriting these awards or maybe the names ar picked via raffle draw systems. All the same i Still cherish people like Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe who do not mince words in turning down their devalued honors. Our Mr. President either has advisers who have been sent in to ruin him or are equally as dull as he is. This country is going down the drain and we all are buy chasing shadows. Keep it up