OON: Officer of the Order of the Niger.
OFR: Officer of the Federal Republic.
MFR: Member of the Federal Republic.
GCFR: General Commander of the Federal Republic.
GCON: General Commander of the Order of the Niger.
These are awards/titles that the Federal Government of Nigeria gives to “Distinguished Nigerians”. They are meant to appreciate people who have contributed to the growth and development of the nation.
Anytime I however hear people who have received the awards, I cry.
I cry because the awards/titles are being misused. Those who deserve to be awarded are neglected. Our leaders prefer to give the awards to their friends and political associates who have done nothing to the peace, progress and development of Nigeria.
They give the awards to people who have joined hands in corrupting Nigeria. Thieves, who carted our collective wealth.
It happens everywhere. Not only in the FG awards, even in the traditional institutions. When I was younger traditional tittles are only given to people with good character among members of a community, but today, traditional rulers all over Nigeria give the tittles to the highest bidder.
Very recently, a young man approached a friend and asked him if he needed a chieftaincy title? He answered positive and was told it will cost only N25,000.
A serving Senator once told me that he received the title of Bashorun from a Yoruba speaking community in 1999 and has never been to that community since then. Yoruba people know how sacrilege that title is.
Could you imagine the number of criminals that now parade themselves all around Nigeria as traditional title holders? One of the ex-Governors now having a serious battle with EFCC received a title from one prominent traditional ruler and was said to have paid N25m.
If traditional titles are now being traded on, what’s happening to our national awards. It’s meant to be a worthy heritage. The array of people that I see carrying the titles around baffles me. From my perspective, they have not done anything distinguishing. Politicians who steal our money, public officers in their normal official routine, contractors who inflate government contracts are the people who receive our national awards.
I studied the procedure and noted some lapses. An advert is made yearly, for people to send nominations for the awards. A committee is set up yearly to ratify the nominations thereafter, the names are sent to Mr. President for final approval.
Very few Nigerians respond during the nomination process. Nigerians in Nigeria feel to frustrated to see any exceptional person amidst them. Nigerians abroad complain about the publicity of the whole process.
From all indications the awards must be dished out yearly. If the names of heroes are not sent and the names of corrupt Nigerians are sent, someone has to be awarded yearly.
I hereby use this great privilege to challenge Nigerians abroad not to feign ignorance any longer and allow corrupt people receive our national awards. Let’s complain about the character of nominees with questionable character before they are awarded and most importantly let’s nominate successful Nigerians who have done great things.
Quite a number of Nigerians abroad are doing greatly and I believe they should be celebrated in Nigeria for not tarnishing the image of Nigeria in the international community.
You and I can also break new grounds. Let’s make up our mind to do great things that generations will remember. You have the power to do great things. If it’s never been done before, then go do it!
God bless you!
God bless Nigeria!