noncommunicable diseases

DURING the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, regimes that lasted from 1999 to 2015, the bestowal of National Honours was an annual ritual which was largely criticised due to the unclear criteria used in the selection of the honourees.

President Muhammadu Buhari was widely commended for suspending the rituals because, in truth, there is very little about the way the elite have handled the affairs of this country that calls for the humongous number of people given the honours.

With less than eight months to the end of his eight-year rule, Buhari has succumbed to the temptation of giving out the National Honours. Come Tuesday, October 11, 2022, the president will confer 437 recipients with different categories of honours at the State House, Abuja.

Five persons, including the Director General of the World Trade Organisation, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina Jane Mohammed, will bag the second highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, GCON.

Also, 54 people will be decorated with the Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR; 67 are for Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON; 64 for the Officer of the Federal Republic, OFR; 101 for the Officer of the Order of the Niger and 75 for Member of the Order of the Niger, MON. Eight people will also receive service medals.

Under Section 2(j) and Section 4 of the National Honours Act, the President enjoys the exclusive prerogative of conferring these honours or revoking same from people who conduct themselves in a manner he considers inconsistent with the honour.

Buhari’s rather heavy list contains worthy winners and thoroughly questionable names. 

Apart from Okonjo-Iweala and Amina Mohammed, the inclusion of Abdullahi Abubakar, the Islamic cleric who saved Christians from being massacred and Professor Ishaq Oloyede, the exemplary public servant at the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, earns our resounding applause.

Also, the listing of our world class celebrities, sporting champions and worthy foreign investors in our economy is befitting and commendable.

However, the inclusion of the late Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari; Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu; Buhari’s personal assistant, Sabiu Tunde and others is objectionable. These people represent some of the darkest spots of Buhari’s era as an elected president.

The President capitalised on his exclusive privilege to help himself in giving out our National Honours to these people who cannot justify them except with their personal relationship with the Commander-in-Chief. 

William Shakespeare calls it putting “a giant’s robe upon a dwarfish thief”.

They have no business rubbing shoulders with the worthy honourees whose inspiring achievements are worthy of emulation. This act of mixing sand with garri dishonours the National Honours.

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