BY DANIEL IDONOR & Prisca Sam-Duru
ABUJA — PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, Sunday, said he was disappointed over Prof. Chinua Achebe’s decision to reject, once again, the conferment on him of the national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR, even as eminent literary artists have also expressed mixed reactions on the issue.
In a statement rejecting the national honour conferred on him, Achebe said: “The reasons for rejecting the offer when it was first made have not been addressed let alone solved. It is inappropriate to offer it again to me. I must, therefore, regretfully decline the offer again.”
Jonathan’s spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, in a statement, however, said: “President Jonathan is also surprised by Prof. Achebe’s claim that the issues which caused him to reject the same award seven years ago, still remain unresolved.”
According to the statement, “coming as it does, against the background of the widely acclaimed electoral reforms undertaken by the Jonathan administration, the claim by Prof. Achebe clearly flies in the face of the reality of Nigeria’s current political situation.
“As reflected in the immense improvements recorded in the conduct of the last general elections which were applauded within and outside the country as the most credible elections in Nigeria in recent years, the Jonathan administration has made tremendous efforts to positively change the political architecture complained about by Prof. Achebe and other Nigerians.
“Politically, Nigeria cannot be said to be where it was in 2004 as the Jonathan administration has embarked on extensive electoral reforms to institute a regime of electoral integrity that all Nigerians can be proud of.
Literary artists reacts
Meanwhile, literary artists who reacted to Achebe’s rejection of the national honour expressed divergent opinions as some argued that his action amounted to rejecting his country while others said his action should be a challenge to the government to improve the lot of the people.
Damian Apata, Prof of English, UNN
“From the look of things, Achebe rejecting a national award for the second time is another political protest which means that he is not happy with the way things are going in the country.
Nwachukwuagbada, Dean, School of Post Graduate Studies, ABSU
“It means that there is something fundamental that is wrong with Nigeria. My contribution is that what is wrong with Nigeria has not been touched since Achebe rejected the first award by Obasanjo in 2004.
In other words, there is no fundamental difference up till now.
Prof Ezeigbo, Prof of English
Achebe has the right to reject the national award for the second time and he has his reasons. His rejecting the award should act as a challenge to every Nigerian whether in government or not.
So if he thinks that things have not changed since seven years ago then for him, things have not changed. I don’t want to blame anybody for anything but it is a challenge that we all should work towards change in Nigeria.