President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday ordered that National Honours awards conferred on recipients with questionable character should be withdrawn.
"The dignity, honour and respect of the National Honours must never be tarnished. In the light of the foregoing, I have directed that the National Honours Committee compile a list of persons conferred with the National Honours but whose current credibility is questionable. If they are found wanting, our prestigious honours will be withdrawn," the president stated.
Jonathan gave this directive while speaking at the 2012 National Honours Award Investiture held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. He also directed the Award committee to expand the search processes to include all strata of the society.
The president stated, "This is essential in ensuring that holders of national honours are truly worthy representations of our national values and honour, and especially are patriotic Nigerians or real friends of our dear land. We are convinced that the National Honours Award is a very important part of the symbols of the country's value and pride.
"Whilst government is always pleased to admit deserving persons into the ranks of those honoured by Nigeria, all holders must not fall short of our collective expectations."
A total of 155 recipients were decorated with six of the eight statutorily recognised categories of honours, with six serving and two retired justices of the Supreme Court. Retired inspector-general of police M.D. Yusuf and the current IGP Mohammed Abubakar were also decorated with the honour of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR).
Also awarded the CFR were the first governor of Lagos State, Brigadier-General Mobolaji Johnson (rtd), and businessman Chief Gabriel Igbinedion
Governors that received the award include Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Gabriel Suswam (Benue), and Martins Elechi (Ebonyi); former Bauchi governor Adamu Mu'azu also got it.
Six senators and five ministers were among the 25 decorated Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON). There were 24 recipients of Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR), 38 for Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) and 38 also for Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR).
There were no recipients for the two classes of Federal Republic Medals, FMR I and FMR II.
He lamented that the total number of 4,430 recipients of different categories of the awards since inception in 1963 was not enough, noting that many more Nigerians deserved to get the awards.
He said that the awardees cut across far and wide and had distinguished themselves as icons and examples to all.
Globacom's chief executive officer Dr Mike Adenuga, who was decorated with the highest honour among all the recipients, Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON), deserved the award because of his immense contributions as a businessman and entrepreneur to the growth and development of the economy, Jonathan said.
"He (Adenuga) worked hard to establish Globacom as an international communication company which provides means of livelihood to over 100,000 Nigerians. Today across Nigeria, Ghana and Benin Republic, he has built a formidable brand and is expanding footholds in Cote d'Ivoire and Senegal."
Adenuga is the second person from the private sector to be decorated with the honour of GCON since the 2011 award ceremony when the president honoured business mogul Aliko Dangote with the second highest award. Before then, the award was reserved mainly for vice presidents, Senate presidents and chief justices of Nigeria.
For Muhammadd Zakari, a senior information officer on GL 10 in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation who was honoured for honesty with Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR), Jonathan said he was honoured for returning over N6 million paid to him in error in November 2011.
Jonathan further explained that the six gold medalists at the just concluded Paralympic Games in London, who were decorated with the award of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON), were recognised for hard work and for lifting the hope of the nation at the Mundial.
The paralympians who last Saturday received N5 million cash reward were Biji Loveline, Ivory Nwokorie, Esther Oyema, Joy Onaolapo, Anozie Grace and Yakubu Adesokan.