- Category: Newsflash
- Published on Monday, 07 November 2011 22:36
- Written by elombah.com
Minority leader of the House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila (ACN, Lagos) is turning down the National Honours Award nomination bestowed on him by President Goodluck Jonathan. Gbajabiamila, who was set to recieve the Order of the Federation (OFR) of Nigeria awards,
questioned the criteria used in nominating recipeints for the 2011 National Honours.
Mr Gbajabiamila thus eminent Nigerians like Chinua Achebe and Gani Fawehinmi in rejection National Honours bestowed by the Nigerian government.
According to reports, the Minority leader insisted that national awards should be reserved for the best in the country, not used, he said, as presidential awards.
In a letter addressed to the President and dated 1 November 2011, Gbajabiamila said: “I wish to thank you very sincerely for finding me worthy of the nomination for national honours (OFR). I am truly touched by the recognition which came to me as a surprise.
“Unfortunately Mr. President Sir, it is with every sense of responsibility and what I believe is in the best interest of our great country and the coming generation that I politely and respectfully must decline the nomination,” he wrote.
The Nigerian National Honours are a set of orders and decorations conferred upon Nigerians and friends of Nigeria every year. They were instituted by the National Honors Act No. 5 of 1964, during the Nigerian First Republic, to honour Nigerians who have rendered service to the benefit of the nation.
However, the nominees fro the awards in 2011, which was released in October, included a wide range of people, from business tycoons, to Nollywood stars and political figures.
The minority leader, two years ago, had authored and sponsored a controversial bill (The National Honours Amendment Bill) in the House of Representatives, which sought to "reform the process by which national honours are awarded".
Gbajabiamila said that he believed then, as he does now, "that the process had been abused and the award was no longer what was intended by the National Honours Act of 1964."
"The bill was eventually passed by the House but there was insufficient time to pass through the senate before the end of the 6th Assembly. I intend to re-introduce same bill in this 7th Assembly.
“I argued then, as I do now, that National Honours are reserved only for the best and that you do not give an award to the office but to the person who occupies that office, having met the criteria. In other words, it is an award to be given in personam and not in rem,” he added.
He insisted that the National Awards differed from a presidential or president's award, saying that while the latter was personal and could be awarded by a president, the former "belongs to the nation and is given on its behalf, by the president, using the guidelines and criteria set out by law."
He explained that a cursory glance at the list of nominees should leave no citizen in doubt "as to why any name on the list is so deserving".
"Year in year out, we have had many rotten eggs on our honours list. This has reduced what otherwise was a well intended and noble idea to a national joke,” he added in his address to President Jonathan.
Gbajabiamila said that while he has done his best in carrying out his duties to the public, he admits that as of now, his accomplishments are not sufficient to have earned him a national honour.
“For these reasons and many more, Mr. President, I cannot in good conscience and without being hypocritical accept my nomination as an Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (OFR). It is an appellation I would have been proud to wear as a badge of honour for the rest of my life but my principles will not permit.”
The minority leader used the opportunity to also urge Jonathan to revisit the controversial fuel subsidy removal plan as well as the implementation of a Sovereign Wealth Fund.
“I particularly want you to look at what is known amongst countries with SWF as Santiago Principles as they relate to such funds. I expect your finance or trade and investment ministers should be conversant with the principles and should be in a position to brief you,” he said.