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Why national honour awards did not hold since 2015 ― Akume

The Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, on Tuesday, informed that an elaborate national honours award ceremony did not hold since the inception of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in 2015 as a result of certain challenges.

Akume, a former Benue State governor, said the challenges that prevented the award ceremony from holding in the last seven years were economic and security, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the entire world.

The minister stated these in his opening remarks at the 2022 National Honour Awards Investiture held at the International Conference Centre in Abuja.

Describing this year’s edition as unique and outstanding, the minister said the screening and selection of this year’s edition commenced on August 5, 2021, when Buhari reconstituted the National Honours Award committee (NHAC) under the chairmanship of the Emir of Lafia, Justice Sidi Bage Muhammad I (retd).

“This ceremony is unique and outstanding due to the fact that since the birth of the present administration in 2015, there has not been an elaborate National Honours Award ceremony save for the Special National Honours ceremony held on June 12, 2018, and September 15, 2022, respectively.

“The investiture ceremonies were put on hold in the past years due to economic and security challenges coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the entire global community,” Akume said.

According to him, “the reconstitution of the National Honours Award Committee (NHAC) by Mr President on August 5th 2021 under the Chairmanship of the Honorable Justice Sidi Bage Muhammad I JSC (Rtd), Emir of Lafia, and its subsequent inauguration on the 16th of September 2021 marked the commencement of the process for screening, selection and recommendation of deserving Nigerians and friends of Nigeria, who had distinguished themselves in their various fields of endeavours, for national honours.”

The minister informed that over 5,000 applications were submitted to the NHAC secretariat for consideration, adding that nominees were subjected to a thorough and painstaking screening before those conferred with national honours today emerged.

In his words, “permit me to inform you of the rigorous selection procedures and processes these recipients passed through in order to be listed for this investiture ceremony.

“Over 5,000 applications were submitted to the NHAC secretariat for consideration. Nominees were subjected to a thorough and painstaking screening.

“At the end of the entire exercise, 499 patriotic Nigerians and friends of Nigeria were successful as follows; GCON-6, CFR-55, CON-65, OFR-69, OON- 110, MFR- 74, MON-55, FRM I-4, FRM II-4, Foreigners (OFR)-7.’

According to the minister, the final list was of successful recipients was subjected to further integrity and security clearance test, saying that this pruned down the number to what was presented today.

Akume said all the 2022 national honour recipients had contributed and continued to contribute immensely to the economic and social development of Nigeria in their various professional and cultural fields.

He then called on the recipients to live above board always, admonishing that they should maintain high moral standards and excellence.

“It is important to emphasize that holders of National Honours are expected at all times to live above board by maintaining the high moral standards and excellence upon which the honour is conferred,” Akume admonished the recipients.

Six distinguished Nigerians were conferred with the second highest national honour in Nigeria, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).

They are, Senate President, Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan; Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Okukayode Oriwoola; the immediate past CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed (retd); Director-General, World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; United Nations Deputy Secretary General, MD Amina J. Mohammed and Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Professor Tijjani Mohammed Bande.

Speaker, House of Representatives, Right Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila; Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan; Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky E.O. Irabor, among others, were conferred with Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR).

Seven foreigners were honoured with the award of Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR).

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