So, the National Award ceremony has come and gone. We can’t just accept it as the final outing by President Muhammadu Buhari. Buhari has more to be grateful for and too many people to appreciate for where he is bound to leave Nigeria after eight years in governance.
People are already missing him and many would agree that there is a need to expand the honour’s list with a supplementary one. Before the proverbial phone stops ringing, the president needs to find something for his yet-to-be-recognised friends.
If journalism is the first rough draft of history, then column writing should be a chapter in that memoir. How did the president’s wife, Hajiya Aisha Buhari miss on a list in which the presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina featured? Isn’t that sacrilege? Here is the woman whose loud voice helped us understand that things were not as rosy at the Villa as we all were made to think. She should know; after all, she got there weeks before the president arrived.
Without her saying so, we would not have known that the president’s junkets to his London doctor is not hatred of Nigerian doctors. Buhari returned to his doctor of 40 years to hide a national shame. It was Hajiya Aisha that exposed the truth about how all the monies allocated to Aso Rock Clinic ended up making it worse than the mere consulting clinic of the 80s.
Mrs Buhari confessed that while buildings were springing up at the clinic’s site, its pharmacy had no common paracetamol to heal the first family of headache. If she had not been forced to move to Dubai, we would now have full records of how things have changed. Who knows, maybe how much of the N5 billion budgeted for that clinic in 2023 would be spent on presidential analgesics.
Nobody would deny the fact that a woman condemned to the president’s kitchen, sitting room and the other room but who chose to move out deserves national honour. It is even more demeaning that Sabiu ‘Tunde’ Yusuf received an OON. The president’s wife once led a detachment of police officers to chase him out of the villa for fear his visit to a ceremony in the heat of COVID could infect her husband. Mrs Buhari deserves an award for feminine resilience and for being the mother of the nation – even one in exile.
A lot of people are gossiping over Garba Shehu’s omission from the national honours list. They are saying he was relegated for being the former spokesman for former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, the man that is now struggling to return to the villa as its principal occupant. The argument is that if Femi Adesina, the president’s spokesman could get nominated for the crude way he handles presidential critics, then a more tepid Shehu deserves an award higher than his contemporary.
Adesina and Shehu were former presidents of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, accomplished journalists and editors of their different media before getting involved in presidential matters. Buhari skipped Shehu and honoured Halilu Dantiye and Nigerians are borrowing a statement credited to the late Idi Amin of Uganda – what is good for the Jews is good for Uganda. Garba Shehu must feature on a supplementary list.
Members of the Presidential Air Fleet were omitted from this first list. They are the patriots that pilot President Buhari on all his global junkets. They have performed that task with patriotic candour and professional diligence ensuring that Eagle One is safe in the air and on the ground as the president travels either locally or globally. They deserve national honour as much as members of the presidential kitchen whose cutlery budgets are unsurpassed except for the guys who provide Internet services at the villa. The latter have budgeted N14 billion for the Internet next year. They are more versatile than Mark Zuckerberg and they deserve a mention on the supplementary list.
President Buhari honoured his current service chiefs bringing them to par with their senior, Tukur Buratai, who is now a distinguished ambassador. It was Buratai that won for Buhari, the technical defeat he taunts over Boko Haram. Many thought the president would bring Buratai to par with the heads of the National Assembly who, in truth have done nothing for Nigeria except paving the way for padded annual and supplementary budgets. Buratai deserves a GCON to cancel the OFR.
One should not join the “evil hearts and wailing wailers” (apology to Adesina) who are disappointed that in conferring high honours on non-performing service chiefs, Buhari was rewarding indolence. Mr. President would not know hard work even if it were dressed in overalls and walking on steel-toed boots. Besides, the president does not give a damn what people say. Every member of the NASS deserves national honour. Their loyalty to Buhari is unmatched in the annals of the principle of separation of powers.
How could anyone fault the conferment of a national honour on General Lucky Irabor? That man handpicked a committee of negotiators that secured the last 23 captives of the attackers of the Abuja-Kaduna train without taking a single prisoner? Seriously speaking, those bandits deserve national awards for only beating and maltreating their captives without murdering them.
It is a gross omission that the chief of naval staff got a well-deserved honour, when Government Oweizide Ekpemupolo, aka General Tompolo, was left out. This ex-MEND chief now turned nemesis of sea pirates has been showing naval officers and ratings who is the real boss. In line with the government’s agenda of leaving no evidence behind, Tompolo’s men set fire on the ship they arrested stealing our oil. An honour for Tompolo would help any future inquiry into oil bunkering in Nigeria’s Niger-Delta.
The wicked have claimed with shreds of evidence that N12 billion has been lost in oil theft in 2022 alone. However, thanks to the freshly honoured Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Silva. But for his dynamism and the managerial acumen of Mele Kolo Kyari, NNPC GCEO, Nigeria might have earned nothing from its crude this year. Silva is a great nationalist from whom 42 houses were seized before he became a minister. He must make Diezani Allison-Maduekwe jealous. For being the most controversial and most flamboyant petroleum minister to date, Diezani deserves honour.
Madam Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the iron lady who presided over the IMF debt forgiveness and also helped us back into the debt trap got her well-deserved honour. Kemi Adeosun ought to get her well-deserved recognition in a supplementary list.
If the president fails to announce an additional list of honorees, his enemies might organise their own. Who knows, they might even call it a Hall of Shame for those whose dynamic inactivity is pushing Nigeria further into the abyss. The president should act proactively and stop it. If Adamu Adamu could get honoured for showing ASUU who is boss, there is a place for Chris Ngige and all other ministers. This preliminary list of awardees is by every inch a splash of grain in a load of chaff. Nobody who is not appointed has the right to feel disappointed by this one, there is hope for a supplementary list.