Nowhere has our government displayed intelligence in the recent past than in the area of according selected Nigerians State recognition by way of National Honours Award.
To ensure that the morally empty individuals are accorded respect, few morally upright men/women are added to the list to procure the looters unearned and unmerited worthy consideration in the eyes of the public.
That is the very aim Obsanjo’s administration wanted to use Chinua Achebe to achieve in 2004 when on October 14, the administration announced a list of 191 recipients of Nigeria’s National Honors with Prof. Chinua Achebe name included. The next day, on October 15, in an open letter, Achebe totally rejected the award on account of the regretful situation of the Nigeria State in general and the situation in his home state, Anambra, in particular under Obasanjo; noting that Nigeria’s condition under OBJ watch was too dangerous for silence.
Achebe was 100 steps ahead of OBJ in a show of smartness. Chinua denied him the honour of lending credence to the ritual of National Honour Award, which has been reduced to a child’s play, when he rejected the award.
Goodluck’s administration, known for it laziness to embark on meticulous exercise, did not embark on serious search for other people with impeccable honour and unimpeachable integrity to lend credibility to the exercise. He went again for Achebe. Again, Achebe rejected the offer noting that “The reasons for rejecting the offer when it was first made have not been addressed let alone solved.” And that “ It is inappropriate to offer it again to me. I must, therefore, regretfully decline the offer again.”
What both Obassanjo and Jonathan administrations failed to realize is that they cannot honour Achebe. It is Achebe who would have honoured them with acceptance. It would have been a big and unmerited honour for the both administrations if Achebe had glorified the process with acceptance.
I am proud of Achebe for rejecting the offer. It is an encouragement for all positively minded youths. It has shown that hard work is the only source of true honour and that honour earn is far better than honour received. That when in possession of earned honour, one can choose to reject artificial award that bear no real significance.
Most times, it is people whose work cannot earn them award that go about coveting it. There was one man I know who go about calling himself Medical Doctor. He owns a clinic and I actually thought he was a doctor, though I was not thrilled with the way he announce it to any person willing to listen. He moves about with his stethoscope. One day I was reading a national daily and I saw the name of his clinic and the story that followed show that he was arrested for impersonation. So, he was fake. I later discovered that the man was actually a qualified nurse who chose to be acting as a Doctor. Most technicians call themselves Engineers louder than the real engineers would. It is always a case of if I can earn it, I will receive it.
What I found funny in this year’s list of recipient is the inclusion of IG and Chief of Army Staff. That this administration chose to honour these men at a time insecurity has enveloped Nigeria so much so that our president himself hide to mark the last independence, show how the National Honours Award have been trivialized. The security chiefs should have display wisdom and at least for once suppress greed and humbly tell the president with due respect this is not a ripe moment for us to be honoured. We know in Nigeria people in position of authority don’t resign even when they can no longer cope with the demand of the office. This opportunity would have, however, give the security chiefs opportunity to express to Nigerians – who are daily threatened, killed and maimed by Boko Haram, Armed rubbers, Ethnic chauvinists, religion extremists, etc. etc. – that they are concerned and worried with the nation’s appalling slide into anarchy.
It is also funny that the National Honours criteria which, in the words of Mr. President, suppose to be “based on what an individual has contributed to his community, his state, his country and how you have projected this country outside” will also reserve positions like the GCFR for anybody who becomes the President of this country or the GCON given to anybody who becomes the vice president or the head of the National Assembly or the head of the Judiciary. Is it all presidents that will meet the above criteria? Has any president actually contributed much to the country as much as they take from the country?
On a final note, let men/women who toil day and night to earn a big name not to easily give it away for any government to use to lend weight to a process far from transparent. I am not against receiving the award but I am against a process that lump both the good and the bad, morally empty men with moral purist and trustworthy individuals with those who rape our treasury day and night, inflict injury on the system at will, abuse position of trust and adopt the principle of ‘all is fair that earns me money’. If your name is listed and you believe you thoroughly merit it, check through the list if others in it are men and women that you will love to associate with? Are they men and women you can proudly announce to friends that you are with them in the same club? Are they men and women you will proudly have as father/mother or children? If there are many in the list whose public conduct will shame you, please politely reject the offer. If the government offering it is spreading pain and poverty like the present government and not doing the work the masses voted him to do, you can politely reject the offer.
Our leaders in this country are shameless. We must use every reasonable means to let them know that we are not comfortable with their leadership. It is not by accident that we are still in darkness, without clean water, no good roads no accountability, insecurity everywhere and the only robust industry is politics.