President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday recapulated his yearning to deliver a country free from hazard to the “next generation of leaders.” He gave this reassurance after bestowing national honours on 443 Nigerians and seven foreigners at a ceremony in Abuja. “We will continue to root out all forms of banditry, criminality, terrorism, and insurgency in the land. As I stated earlier in my Independence address to the nation, I will hand over a Nigeria that is free from insecurity to the next generation of leaders,” he said.
President Buhari stated that national honours were not just given for decoration, but should “remind us of an important part of our responsibility as citizens.” He also emphasised that citizens who contributed to national development deserved to be encouraged and appreciated, he enjoined all Nigerians to always endeavour to do their best for the country.
The award, which is in 10 categories, was presented to Supreme Court Justices, judges, top lawyers, incumbent and former governors, ministers, traditional rulers, creative artistes, politicians, businessmen, athletes, and security officers who died in the line of duty, and other distinguished Nigerians.
Six persons were conferred with Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON), They are Senate President Ahmad Lawan; Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Olukayode Ariwoola; immediate past CJN Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad; Director-General, World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations(UN) Amina Mohammed and Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Tijjani Muhammad-Bande.
Fifty-five others received Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR), 65, Commander of the Order of Niger (CON); 77, Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR); 110, Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON); 74 Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR); and 55, Member of the Order of the Niger (MON).
There were four recipients each for the Federal Republic Medal I (FRM I) and Federal Republic Medal II respectively. The seven foreigners received the OFR award.
The President commended the National Awards Committee headed by Sidi Muhammad, a retired justice of the Supreme Court and Emir of Lafia, for diligently going through over 5,000 submissions and coming up the 500 honourees.
Emphasising that nation-building involves a lot of sacrifice by the citizenry, the President hailed the honorees for distinguishing themselves in various ways.
He said they had helped in the recreation of ”a new Nigeria of our dreams through respect for the rule of law, image laundering, transparency, and accountability in the management of scarce resources.”
Buhari also noted that those in the private sector had creditably discharged themselves in business, entertainment, hospitality, transportation, and other forms of human endeavours to transform Nigeria.
He specifically mentioned the likes of Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu (Burna Boy); Okonjo Iweala, Amina Mohammed, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for positively projecting Nigeria internationally as well as Ms. Josephine Agu, an airport cleaner, and Ogbanago Muhammed, a bank security man, for their integrity.
President Buhari said: “We have amongst the recipients today, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Ms. Amina . Mohammed and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, are doing our country proud on the international scene. Our dear sisters are a source of inspiration to our young women that through the dint of hard work and dedication, they can achieve greatness.
“We also have on the list, Imam Abdullahi Abubakar, a religious leader who hid over 262 Christians in his mosque from attacks in Yelwa Gindi Akwati village, in Plateau State. He is a good example of religious tolerance we preach amongst Nigerians. I am excited that he is being honoured today with Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR).
“Worthy of mention are our artistes, particularly our very own Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu (Burna Boy), who won the Grammy Awards in 2020. He along with other artists have repositioned the Nigerian entertainment industry and placed it on the global map. At the just concluded Dubai Expo 2020, Nigeria’s pavilion was a beehive of activities as our musicians entertained guests from around the world.
“Despite the present economic challenges, Nigeria still boasts of men and women of integrity; Ms. Josephine Agu, an airport cleaner returned $12,200 found in a toilet at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos as well as Ogbanago Mohammed , a bank security man who found and returned $10,000.
“Today, we celebrate their dignity and strong strength of character by conferring National Honours on them. They are a shining example to our younger generation.
SOURCE: THE NATION ONLINE