Decorates 186 recipients
By Daniel Idonor
ABUJAâ€”PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, said the government would review criteria that were used for the selection of nominees for the award of national honours, with a view to raising the standard of eligibility.
He said the bar for the selection of nominees would be further raised in the award process so that it would challenge compatriots to strive towards excellence, noting that observations made by members of the public concerning the process had been well received by government and would form part of the considerations when organizing future ones.
President Jonathan who called for the preservation of the award as a means for preserving the nationâ€™s heritage said Nigeria was made up of men and women of honour as had been attested to by the profiles of the distinguished awardees since its inception.
He noted: â€œThe institution of national honours has been part of our national heritage that has blossomed since the first Republic, and should be preserved for the inspirations it offers for our citizens for greatness. It is a veritable instrument to draw our attentions to the possibilities within the Nigerian enterprise despite the huge challenges we have.â€
While calling on Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of patriotism, hard and excellence, Jonathan said: â€œIt is often said that Nigerians turn out to be among the best as they compete with other nationals outside our shores.
The golden rule henceforth from this year of our golden jubilee should be that whether at home or abroad, Nigerians must always perform excellently in whatever activities they find themselves engaged in.â€
The President spoke while conferring the Nigerian national honours award on 186 people who were selected for this yearâ€™s award at the International Conference Centre in Abuja.
They were among the only 3910 persons who have had the privilege of being recognized for distinguished service since the inception in 1963.
He said he would continue to provide leadership and promote the cherished values of honesty in the public sphere hard work and excellence which are the necessary ingredients to make the dream of building a great nation a reality.
He urged the awardees to regard it as a rare honour which should spur them to greater service to God, the country, Nigeria; and humanity, stressing that as national ambassadors and agents of change for generations of Nigerians yet unborn they should always live up to the highest standard to which they had been placed.
He also called on the foreigners who were among the awardees to identify with the national aspiration of Nigeria in all they did in appreciation of the award just as he commended them for investing their endowments in Nigeria.
The list of the awardees released by the National Awards Committee revealed that three people: Dr Joseph Wayas, Second Republic Senate President, Justice Katsina-Alu and Admiral Akhigbe, received the Grand Commander of the Order of Niger, GCON, award.
There were 13 recipients of the Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR, award, 27 got the Commander of the Order of Niger, CON; 43 received the Officer of the Federal Republic, OFR; 46 got the Officer of the Order of Niger, OON; while 22 got the Member of the Federal Republic, MFR.
The Member of the Order of Niger, MON, category had 25 recipients while seven awardees wereÂ given the Federal Republic Medal.
Those decorated by President Jonathan included the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsinaâ€“Alu, former Chief of General Staff, Admiral Okhai Mike Akhigbe; Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, Dr Bukola Saraki of Kwara State and former Lagos State First Lady, Chief Oluremi Tinubu.
Others were former Lagos State Governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Vice Chairman, Presidential Advisory Council, PAC, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, SAN.
Last month, the government released the list of recipients of the 2010 National Merit Award. The list comprised five serving and former governors, 12 serving and retired justices, 10 retired military officers, 11 traditional rulers, two former Speakers of the House of Representatives and two deputy Speakers of the House, among others.
The Oba of Lagos, Rilwanu Akiolu; Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Umar El_Kanemi and the Emir of Gwandu , Alhaji Mohammed Ilyasu Bashar, as well as two former Speakers of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Etteh and Alhaji Ghali Umar Naâ€™abba were among the 13 listed for the CFR awards.
Former First Lady and Justice of the Court of Appeal, Mrs Fati Abubakar, former Director of Military Intelligence, Brig. Akilu Haliru, and business mogul, Mr. Femi Otedola, were among the 43 recipients of the CON awards.