Saraki missing as Buhari lists Lawan, Gbajabiamila, CJN, Okonjo-Iweala, music stars for national honours
Despite appeals from several quarters, President Muhammadu Buhari has ignored a known convention by excluding a former President of the Senate, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who led the National Assembly from 2015 to 2019, from the national honours awards, at an event billed to hold on October 11, at the State House, Abuja.
However listed for the honours are some 437 Nigerians, among them politicians, public officers, security officers, businessmen, traditional rulers, members of the academia, retired public officers, religious leaders and musical artistes, who would receive the prestigious national honours for 2022.
Earlier, the Federal Government had disowned a list of the 2022 national honours nominees circulating in the media since last weekend. In a statement, Julie Osagie-Jacobs, Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, urged Nigerians to disregard the list, describing it as the handiwork of fake news purveyors.
But according to a source, the list was only adjusted following concerns over inconsistencies, errors and the absence of notable names for the awards.
Indications that Saraki might have been excluded from the list of awardees emerged last week after the names of nominees were released, prompting interventions by some prominent Nigerians, who said the President should not deviate from the convention, especially, when Saraki was worthy of the award.
The convention had always been for a vice president, Senate President, Speaker and Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to be given the title either on the assumption of office or when national awards were being generally bestowed on recipients.
In the list seen by The Guardian yesterday, the former Chief of Staff to the president, the late Abba Kyari, will receive the posthumous honour of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) award. Kyari died on April 17, 2020, from COVID-19 complications.
Others listed for posthumous recognition include the late elder statesman, Chief Anthony Enahori, who would receive Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON); the late former Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, CFR; the late scholar, Bala Usman, Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) and the late activist, Gambo Sawaba, Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR).
President Buhari further listed for conferment of the national honours awards his nephew, Mamman Daura; his personal assistant, Sabiu Yusuf (Tunde); in-law, the Emir of Bichi, Alhaji Nasir Bayero, and the National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Chris Isiguzo.
Others close to President Buhari, who was nominated for the award, included State House Chief of Protocol, Lawal Kazaure; the President’s aide on domestic affairs, Sarki Abba; his spokesman, Femi Adesina; personal physician, Sanusi Rafindadi; and State House Administrative Officer, Abubakar Maikano.
Daura would be decorated as CON, while Bayero and Kazaure are to be awarded OFR. Yusuf (Tunde), Adesina, Rafindadi and Abba would be awarded Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), while Maikano would receive Member of the Order of the Niger (MON).
Others recognised on the honours list were Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Kayode Arowoola, and United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed. The two were among the five nominees to be conferred with the second highest national award of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).
The other recipients of the GCON were Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; former CJN, Tanko Muhammad; and former Minister of Finance and current Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala.
The CFR had 54 nominees; CON, 67 nominees; OFR, 64; OON 101; MFR, 75; MON, 56; and Federal Republic Medal had eight award recipients.
Some of the prominent recipients of CFR include Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; Chief of Defence Staff, Lt Gen Lucky Irabor; former Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara; President of Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongbam-Mensem; and former Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen. Tukur Buratai.
Others are Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, his predecessor, Mohammed Adamu, Emir of Lafia, Alhaji Sidi Bage, and Tor Tiv, James Ayatse, among others.
Some serving governors, including Mai Mala-Buni of Yobe State, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, Simon Lalong (Plateau), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Babagana Zulum (Borno), and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) will receive the CON.
Other nominees in this category include Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Idris Wase; Minister of Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola; finance minister, Zainab Ahmed, and Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Ishaq Oloyede.
Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kyari; Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Bishop Ignatius Kaigama; and a legal scholar, Dr. Muiz Banire, were shortlisted for OFR award.
Grammy Award winner, Burna Boy, will receive MFR, while 2Face Idibia, Shehu Othman, and another entertainer, Teni, are in the category of those to receive MON.