Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, conferred National Honours Awards on 447 recipients comprising Nigerians and non-Nigerians labelled “friends of Nigeria”.
The award investiture ceremony was held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
5000 nominees were received by the George Akume-led awards committee, but only 447 were selected for the awards.
A total of 5,341 persons have been conferred with various National Honours since its inception in 1963, including the recipients of Tuesday awards.
Below is the full speech of the President at the award investiture ceremony.
”It is my honour to address you on behalf of the Federal Government and the people of Nigeria on this occasion of the 2022 National Honours Award Investiture Ceremony.
2. The Award of titles of honour, decorations and dignitaries is a solemn and patriotic event at which President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria honours deserving Nationals and Non-Nationals, who have distinguished themselves in the service of the nation and humanity in accordance with the National Honours Act CAP. N43 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
3. The screening and selection of nominees for this year’s award as always, followed established broad criteria including but not limited to;
a. Consistent and meaningful participation in community and/or national development.
b. Rendering unsolicited, selfless and philanthropic services to humanity; outstanding sacrifice in the defence of a cause popularly adjudged to be positive, relevant and beneficial to the nation and community.
c. Distinct act of bravery in the protection and/or defence of national interest, public peace, safety of life and property.
d. Remarkable achievement in any field of expertise where the person’s activities in that field have made significant contributions to the attainment of national goals and objectives.
e. Immense contributions towards the upliftment of community, state, nation and/or humanity through achievements by way of inventions and bringing outstanding honour and glory to the state through personal dedication and patriotic commitment. Service with integrity is also a basis for the selection process.
4. On this occasion, you may wish to recall that since the inception of this administration, there has not been such occasion like this where individuals and friends of Nigeria have been so singled out for investiture except for the Special Investiture Ceremony in honour of Chief MKO Abiola, Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe and Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN whose ceremony was specially carried out to right the wrong done in the past, to assuage our feelings and to resolve to stand firm now and the future for the sanctity of the electoral process and our democracy.
5. In like manner, our country’s athletes were also honoured recently for their spectacular performances in several competitions.
6. It is worthy of note that nation building involves a lot of sacrifice by the citizenry. Citizens who contribute to national development deserve to be encouraged and appreciated. It is based on this premise that I reconstituted the National Honours Award Committee, Chaired by His Royal Highness, Justice Sidi Bage Muhammad I, JSC (Rtd), the Emir of Lafia, a distinguished retired Justice and other patriotic Nigerians as members to recommend suitable Nigerians and our friends for appropriate recognition.
7. The committee has done a patriotic duty by diligently going through over 5,000 submissions and coming up with these recommendations.
8. The patriotic Nigerians and our friends being honoured today, have distinguished themselves in various ways for the purpose of recreating a new Nigeria of our dreams through respect for the rule of law, image laundering, transparency and accountability in management of scarce resources.
9. Equally, those in the private sector have also creditably discharged themselves in business, entertainment, hospitality, transportation and other forms of human endeavours to transform Nigeria.
10. We have amongst the recipients today, Amb. Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Ms. Amina J. Mohammed and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who are doing our country proud on the international scene. Our dear sisters are a source of inspiration to our young women that through hard work and dedication, they can achieve greatness.
11. 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).
12. 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 artistes 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.
13. 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 Muhammed Ibrahim, 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.
14. I congratulate all the recipients today who will be joining the league of Awardees. I appreciate the non-Nigerian recipients and assure all of you that this administration will continue to provide the enabling environment for you to undertake your lawful businesses to allow you sustain your efforts at contributing to the development of our nation, Nigeria.
15. The National Honours are not merely decorative. They remind us of an important part of our responsibility as citizens. We must always endeavour to do our best for our country. 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.
16. I want to specially commend the Chairman and members of the National Honours Award Committee for a job well done. The list of awardees is justifiably long, since this exercise has not been carried out since 2015. Your commitment to the process of screening and selection has been well guided.
17. Let me appeal to other Nigerians who are yet to receive this recognition to be patient and understand that their efforts in nation building are appreciated and at the right time, will similarly be recognized.
18. Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, this administration will continue to partner with Nigerians and friends of Nigeria with like minds in our efforts to build the Nigeria of our dream where everybody will thrive to excel in their chosen fields devoid of parochial sentiments.
Thank you very much for your presence and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”