President Goodluck Jonathan has described Professor Chinua Achebe's decision to reject the conferment on him of the National Honour of Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR), the country's third highest honour, as regrettable.
Jonathan, who expressed his disappointment in a statement yesterday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Reuben Abati, said Achebe was clearly not in tune with the reality of Nigeria's current political situation.
Achebe, a renowned writer and author of Things Fall Apart, has for the second time in seven years, rejected an offer of the National Honour by the Federal Government on grounds that his reasons for rejecting the offer when it was first made in 2004 have not been addressed let alone solved by the government.
Achebe had in 2004 based his reasons then on the precarious political affairs in Anambra, his home state and lack of schools, roads, hospitals, water, bad economy and insecurity in the country.
The author, who is among 364 nominees, would have been honoured today by Jonathan.
Abati's statement said Jonathan was surprised by Achebe's claim that the issues which caused him to reject the same award seven years ago, still remained unresolved.
He said the rejection is, "coming as it does, against the background of the widely acclaimed electoral reforms undertaken by the Jonathan Administration, the claim by Prof. Achebe clearly flies in the face of the reality of Nigeria's current political situation.
"As reflected in the immense improvements recorded in the conduct of the last general elections which were applauded within and outside the country as the most credible elections in Nigeria in recent years, the Jonathan Administration has made tremendous efforts to positively change the political architecture complained about by Prof. Achebe and other Nigerians.
"Politically, Nigeria cannot be said to be where it was in 2004 as the Jonathan Administration has embarked on extensive electoral reforms to institute a regime of electoral integrity that all Nigerians can be proud of, believing that governance will be greatly enhanced in the country if the will of the people prevails at elections.
"While President Jonathan acknowledges that there are still challenges in the path of Nigeria's attainment of its full potentials as a nation, he believes that his Administration is moving the country in the right direction and therefore deserves the support, encouragement and cooperation of all citizens.
"The President continues to hold Prof. Achebe in very high esteem in spite of his regrettable decision which may have been borne out of misinformation as to the true state of affairs in Nigeria and hopes that he will find time to visit home soon and see the progress being made by the Jonathan Administration for himself.
"Prof. Achebe remains in President Jonathan's consideration, a national icon, a Nigerian of high attainments, indeed one of the greatest living Africans of our time."