- Category: Personality
- Published on Tuesday, 08 November 2011 00:37
- Written by Admin
- Hits: 1524
Minority leader of the House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila (ACN, Lagos) has turned down his nomination as a recipient of the Order of the Federation of Nigeria (OFR) by President Goodluck Jonathan, just as he questioned the criteria used in nominating recipients for the 2011 national honours.
The Minority Leader, in a letter dated November 1, 2011 and addressed to the President, 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.
Giving reasons why he rejected the award, Gbajabiamila said: “As you are probably aware, about two years ago, I authored and sponsored a bill (The National Honours Amendment Bill) in the House of Representatives. The bill generated a lot of controversy both in the House and general public. By the bill, I sought among other things to reform the process by which national honours are awarded. I believed then, as I do 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.
Gbajabiamila further insisted that: “The National Award is a national honours award and not a presidential or president’s award. The distinction being that while the latter is personal to a president and he reserves the right to give anyone he chooses an award using whatever criteria or standard, he determines, a national honours award, in contradistinction, belongs to the nation and is given on its behalf, by the president, using the guidelines and criteria set out by law.
“It is for this reason that a first or cursory glance at a national honours list must leave no citizen in doubt as to why any name on the list is so deserving. Any serious question or doubt as to any name on the list taints the whole list and, as is often said, one rotten egg spoils the whole basket. Mr. President, 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.
Gbajabiamila said while he believes he has done his best as a legislator and diligently carried out his duties as the opposition leader, he does not believe that his best, as of now, was 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.”
He also used the opportunity to implore Jonathan to have a second look at the fuel subsidy and Sovereign Wealth Fund issues.
“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. (Daily Times)