Calvin Coolidge, 30th U.S President (1872-1933)
I was a fresh high school leaver in 2004, when literary giant
Professor Chinua Achebe shunned the National Honour awards. His
reasons, then, are well-documented, so I won’t bother to rehash them.
To be candid, out of the then 191-man list, a couple were deserving, but the other majority that undeservedly got awarded got me thinking that President Obasanjo was semantically-challenged to comprehend the ”gave” in the aforementioned popular quotation.
Years rolled by and Yar’adua mounted the saddle and the papers were awash with the phrase ”First graduate President”, but in the course of time, we were to know that he wasn’t so given to intellect; ditto for Preisdent Jonathan, who came armed with a PhD- the end of knowledge (according to the Late Chuba Okadigbo).
But Jonathan Proved that intelligence is not synonymous with wisdom with his list of 365 recipients this year; I think it was an apt display of his calculative skills to make the number in tandem with the days of the year, thus a ratio of one awardee to a day.
In saner climes, outrageous will be the word to describe that list, which was why I was unsympathetic when I learnt that the medals and programmes didn’t get round to the awardees and their attendant guests. Maybe, that was the organizers not-so-polite way of saying ”we should trim this list next year, Sir”.
In the U.S and Britain- countries that we model our system after- the process is near perfect. For instance, statistics have shown that since the inception of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1965, they have averaged 11 recipients per year in the U.S. During the event, the president reels off the awardees achievements off-hand because their contributions are so evident. It might interest you to know that only six former presidents have been beneficiaries out of the tens of
presidents they have produced. Also,the British awards system, which has a close semblance to ours, is also not overly polluted with politicians with MBE’s , OBE’s et al.
President Jonathan, at the awards ceremony, promised to ensure a review of the supposed National Honours awards. Will he keep to his words? Will he change the awards from quantity-based to quality-based?
Only time will tell.
Dickson U. Kalu
Follow on twitter @DicksonKalu