President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, conferred national honours to 449 Nigerians and friends of Nigeria.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the President’s Chief of State, Ibrahim Gambari, were also in attendance at the event, which was held in Abuja.
The awardees include the President’s late Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari; Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State; Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Ishaq Oloyede; the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chief Chris Isiguzo; amongst others.
Those who are awarded the honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) are Okonjo-Iweala, Hon Justice Olukayode Ariwoola and Hon Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad – the current and erstwhile Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), respectively; the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ms Amina J. Mohammed; and renowned diplomat, Professor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande.
Nigerians with the honour of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) are Gbajabiamila; Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan; former speaker, Yakubu Dogara; Justice Kudirat M. Kekere-Ekun; Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad; Justice Monica Bolna’an, and Donghan Mansem.
Prominent among awardees of Commander of the Order of Niger (CON) is Delta State Governor and vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, and some state governors like Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna, Prof Babagana Zulum of Borno, are also recipients.
The awardees were given the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON); Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR);Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON); Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR); and Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) awards.
Reacting, the National Executive Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) hailed the decision of the Federal Government to honour seasoned journalists as unprecedented.
In a statement signed by the National Secretary, Shuaibu Usman Leman, yesterday, the NUJ said that the union would remain eternally grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari for the honour done its leaders.
The statement read, “The National Executive Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists expresses its gratitude to the President and Commander-in-Chief, Muhammadu Buhari for conferring on the union’s President, Christopher Ikechukwu Isiguzo the award of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR).
“We equally commend President Muhammadu Buhari for honouring Alhaji YakubuIbn Mohammed, immediate past DG of NTA and Mr Femi Adesina, Senior Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media who received the award of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) and Malam Halilu Ibrahim Dantiye, former President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) who was conferred with Member of the Order of the Niger (MON). We felicitate with these worthy Ambassadors of the Union.
“Chief Christopher Isiguzo, MFR, certainly has the creativity and determination to do so many things in an extraordinary way. The union’s NEC joins him in feeling proud for his most recent achievement. Warm congratulations to our dear leader.
“We commend the ability of the NUJ President to relentlessly search for solutions to problems and find innovative ways to improve the fortunes of the union. These are the keys to this success and many more to come.
“It should be also noted that the President’s perseverance is an inspiration to everyone in the National Executive Council of the union and undoubtedly, he has earned all the accolades coming his way.
“While encouraging all the award recipients to continue to do more, we extend to them, as always, our profound support. Congratulations!”
Also reacting, the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) praised the conferment of the national honours on its leaders as extraordinary and legendary.
A statement titled, “National Honour on Distinguished Journalists; A Plus for Democracy”, signed by NAWOJ President, LadiBala, said that women journalists in the country were proud of the exemplary leadership provided by the honourees, and commended the Federal Government for recognising hardwork and merit.
The statement read, “A new dawn for Nigeria’s democracy is in the horizon following the recognition of the contributions of distinguished, prominent Nigeria’s finest journalists who have contributed in moving the country forward in no small way.
“The conferment of National Award by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria on the immediate past Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and seasoned administrator, Mr. YakubuIbn Mohammed; and the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President and former President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mr. Femi Adesina, with the Award of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), and the Award of the Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) on the National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Chris Isiguzo; and the Award of Member of the Order of Niger (MON) on the former President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, a communication strategist, Mr. Halilu Ibrahim Dantiye, deserve commendation and praises.
“The deserving award on these distinguished journalists is a clear testament of the fact that the role of journalists and the media at large in the development of the country is accorded genuine recognition and appreciated by the federal government.
“It is equally worthy of note that this is the first time in the history of Journalism in Nigeria that such quality numbers are being recognized and so honoured by the federal government.
“The honours will certainly serve as a morale booster and lubricant to inspire other journalists to continue to provide quality information dissemination as well as generate better media contents and serve as the needed oxygen that will strengthen the ideals and principle of democracy for the overall good of the society.
“The Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), wishes to congratulate the four Distinguished journalists on the conferment of the National Awards and wish them higher and greater heights in their future endeavours.
“The awards and recognition, speak volumes and indeed, a thing of pride to all journalists.
“Accordingly, NAWOJ commends President Muhammadu Buhari for the kind gesture accorded the 437 Nigerians who have rendered meritorious services towards the growth and development of the country.
“The 2022 National Honour Awards of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will surely be remembered for its unique choices of the awardees”.
Meanwhile, a total of 447 out of over 5,000 nominees received were presented the National Honours Awards, the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, George Akume has said.
Akume stated this in his opening address at the National Honours Awards Investiture at the International Conference Centre, Abuja on Tuesday.
According to Akume, only 447 persons made the hallowed list out of all the nominees, who were drawn from various walks of life across the public and private sectors.
The National Honours Awards was established by the National Honours Act of No 6 in 1964. It took retroactive effect from October 1, 1963.
The Act empowers the President by warrant, the Nigerian Order of Dignity to honour deserving citizens who have contributed to the development and progress of the country in any field of endeavour.
According to the Minister, 447 citizens and foreigners labelled as “Nigerians and Friends of Nigeria,” received various honours ranging from the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger and Federal Republic Medals.
The GCON category include: former Nigeria’s Finance Minister and current Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, NgoziOkonjo-Iweala; Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, current Chief Justice of Nigeria, OlukayodeAriwoola, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Mohammed; Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, and former President of the United Nations General Assembly, Tijjani Mohammed-Bande.
Some of the 13 persons who will be honoured posthumously include former Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari (CFR), former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, and Aircraft Man Matthew Oyedepo, the latter two who died in a fatal plane crash in May 2021.
Dignitaries, who graced the occasion are Vice President YemiOsinbajo, Senate President, Ahmed Laman, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Chief Justice of Nigeria, OlukayodeAriwoola, the President’s Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Service Chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police, and traditional Rulers including the Emir of Lafia, Sidi Mohammad, who is the Chairman of the National Honours Awards Committee.
15 Judges Face Probe Over Alleged Misconduct
No fewer than 15 Judges of the Federal and State High Courts are in trouble over alleged misconduct occasioned by petitions from individuals and corporate bodies.
Already, the National Judicial Council (NJC) has set up high-powered probe panels to investigate alleged gross misconduct allegations brought against them.
The probe panels are to determine the culpability of the judges in the various petitions filed against them.
However, the NJC did not name the judges to be probed, their divisions and specific nature of their alleged offences.
It, however, revealed that the council dismissed petitions against 51 judicial officers of the Federal and State High Courts for either lack of merit, being subjudice, or being matters for appeal or that the concerned judge had retired from service.
A statement by the NJC issued by Director of Information, Mr. Soji Oye, last Friday, in Abuja, confirmed that the decision to investigate the alleged erring judges was taken at the council’s 99th meeting presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola.
The decision, the NJC said, was sequel to the submission of recommendations of three Preliminary Complaint Assessment Committees, which considered 66 petitions forwarded to them by the council from all over the federation.
The statement explained that the council was formally presented with the reviewed Judicial Information Technology Policy, which established the general requirements and responsibilities for the Nigerian Judiciary systems and information.
“The policy provides for guidance of Courts and Judicial Bodies in protecting Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability (CIA) of Judiciary function and process.
“It also stipulates guidance for acceptable use of system, services and technologies as well as provisions for secure storage of judicial data and recovery processes in the event of emergencies or distress.
“Similarly, it further provides guidelines and incident management policies, including Data Centre deployment and use policies.
“The scope is intended for all Courts and Judicial Bodies in Nigeria, including staff of the Nigerian Judiciary, employed or contracted to any Judicial Body handling information that is generated, received, stored, transmitted, or printed.
“It encompasses all personal or Judiciary identifiable data held in their Courts and Judicial Bodies’ systems and process, including supporting mechanisms and technologies for managing such data at rest or in transit.
“All staff are expected to comply with the policy and associated standard protocols and procedures that have been put in place to support the document.
“The policy is applicable to all courts unit, departments of all Judicial Bodies in the Nigerian Judiciary.
“Council noted appointments of judicial officers recommended for appointment at the last meeting who have been sworn–in as Judges of Federal and State High Courts.
“Reports from Standing and ad-hoc Committees of the Council were also presented at the Meeting as well as notifications of retirement of 16 judges and notification of death of a judge from the Federal and State High Courts,” the NJC said.
Expose Govs Pilfering LG Funds, Wike Dares Buhari
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has dissociated himself from state governors who dip their hands into local government funds received from the Federation Account.
Wike was reacting to the accusation by President Muhammadu Buhari that governors had continued to deliberately deplete remittances released to various LG councils in their states.
The Rivers State governor, who spoke at the inauguration of Mgbuosimini Ring and internal roads in Rumueme Kingdom of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, last Friday, said the generalisation done by Buhari was unfair.
The governor stated that since 2015, he has never had any reason to tamper with local government funds.
He, therefore, challenged Mr President, as a true leader, to tell Nigerians those governors pilfering council funds.
“You said the governors are taking local government funds. I want to say in the name of almighty God, I have never touched local government funds one day.
“I have never, and I have no reason to do that. So, Mr. President, tell us who are those people. You know them, tell us. It is not good to make class defamation by saying governors. Please, I am not one of those governors.
“So, Mr President, please, spare me, tell Nigerians that the Integrity Governors are not part of them. We have integrity. And do us a favour to announce all those state governors that are taking local government money because you have the records.”
Wike emphasised that when he was a council chairman under the administration of Dr. Peter Odili, the governor then never touched their funds, adding that that was an example he had continued to practice.
He noted that ordinarily, most of the road projects his administration had constructed should have been done by local government councils, but quickly stressed that he has never asked any council for partnership to fund any project.
“When I was chairman of local government under Dr. Peter Odili, he never touched one Naira of local government funds. When I was chairman, nobody touched my funds, and I see no reason why I will begin to touch other people’s funds.”
Wike explained that his administration had also given optimal consideration to the payment of pension and gratuity.
According to him, over N3billion was spent monthly by the state government to cater for that concern.
Commenting on the Mgbuosimini roads, Wike said the inauguration event was remarkable because he had always enjoyed over 98percent support from the Rumueme Kingdom.
“In Rumueme Kingdom, I have always had 98percent support. And I have told them, there is nothing within my powers that I can do, and I will not do for them.”
The governor recounted that he had sited Dr. Nabo Graham Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School, the Judges’ Quarters, relocated the state’s abattoir from Trans Amadi to the Rumueme Kingdom, as well as elevated the traditional stool to first class status.
“It is the benefit and dividend of democracy. So, you have done well for me. I will never turn my back against you. Rumueme people, God will continue to bless you for all you have done for me in my political career.”
Wike also spoke about the employment into the state civil service soon, and assured Rumueme people of filling their quota.
The governor also urged them to extend their support to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Sir Siminialayi Fubara and all senatorial, House of Representatives and State Assembly candidates of the party in the 2023 elections.
Performing the inauguration of Mgbuosimini Ring and internal roads, Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, aligned with Wike that Buhari should name the governors misappropriating local government council funds.
He noted that by delivering such road project to the community, Wike had improved the wellbeing of the people.
“Governor Wike, I want to thank you for setting the pace in project execution. God will bless you. Like has been said, the essence of government, apart from providing security for life and property, is to ensure welfare, which you are doing here.”
Ortom mentioned that commissioning of projects was one virtue he learnt from Wike.
This, he said, has helped him to be more visible and seen to be a governor who delivers projects too.
“One thing that I can say, amongst others, that I have learned from my brother, the governor of Rivers State, is his commissioning of projects. Because if you don’t do it, your enemies will go out there to say this is the project they had done.
“And this is the blackmail that I faced back home in Benue State until Wike told me that look, you have to start commissioning projects.”
Providing the description of the project, Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Dr. Dakorinima Alabo George-Kelly, said the Mgbuosimini Ring and internal roads project was approximately 6km long, with an average width of 7.3meters and 8km of drains length, with 100millimetre asphaltic thickness.
George-Kelly emphasised that the roads were built to last for a long time, and offers such benefits of improving the value of property in the area, ease traffic flow and serve as an alternate traffic route for the people.
In his address, Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Barrister George Ariolu, recalled that before the roads were reconstructed, most businesses and tenants left the community because of the deplorable condition of the roads.
He noted that the situation now, was a return of the bustling commercial activities and delightful socio-cultural life.
Speaking on behalf of the contractor, Ferotex Construction Company, Mr. Jack Afara, said the roads had been done with highest standard of road construction.
He thanked the Rivers State governor for entrusting the company with the project, and several others.
RVHA Passes 2023 Appropriation Bill Of N555bn
Less than two weeks after the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, presented the 2023 Budget, the state House of Assembly has passed the 2023 Appropriation Bill after it was adjusted from about N550billion to over N555billion.
The Speaker of the House and who also chairs House Committee on Supplies, Hon Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, during a debate on the bill, last Friday, granted leave to adjust the budget estimate after scrutinising the report submitted by the Chairman, House Committee of Appropriation, Hon. Enemi Alabo George, to accommodate some items not captured in the budget, which include registration of West African Examinations Council (WAEC) for students of Rivers origin and the take off of the Justice Mary Odili Judicial Institute.
The Leader of the House, Hon. Martin Amaewhule, representing Obio/Akpor Constituency 1, who led the debate on the report of the House Committee on Appropriation, said the House was empowered to make adjustments, where necessary, in the appropriation estimate before passage.
Also, member representing Obio/Akpor Constituency 2 and Chairman, House Committee on Works, Hon Michael Chinda, in his submission, said during the budget defense with MDAs, it was observed that some of the projects listed in the budget by the Ministry of Works in the last budget had not been awarded, and advised that such projects should be awarded or be removed totally from the 2023 budget estimate.
While ruling on the debate, Ibani, said that the budget would enhance more projects for the people of the state.
All members voted for the passage of the budget while the House adjourned sitting to Tuesday.
By: Ike Wigodo
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