President Muhammadu Buhari
According to a report by The PUNCH, President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to host the hitherto yearly conferment of national honours since the inception of his administration in 2015.
Buhari, who assumed office on May 29, 2015, failed to host the investiture in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
As of the time of filing this report on Wednesday, there were no signs that such a programme will hold this year.
The national award, which is instituted annually, has as its objective to recognise and honour citizens and friends of Nigeria who have distinguished themselves in their various endeavours and contributed immensely to the development of the nation.
The last time the conferment of the yearly awards took place was on September 29, 2014 when former President Goodluck Jonathan conferred different categories of national honours on 313 persons, bringing the total number of beneficiaries as of that time to 4,737.
Jonathan also decorated Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo with the national honour of Grand Commander of the Niger on May 28, 2015, a day before he handed over to Buhari.
On June 12, 2018, Buhari posthumously conferred the highest national honour of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic on the winner of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election, the late Chief Moshood Abiola.
He also conferred the second highest national honour, the GCON, on Abiola’s running mate in the election, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe; while he also honoured the late human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, with the same award posthumously.
Besides these, Buhari has failed to continue the yearly tradition of conferment of national honours which started in 1963.
This is despite the fact that budgetary provisions were made for the event for some of the affected years.
The item is always one of the items captured under “national events” category in the yearly budget of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Other events in that category include the annual Democracy Day and Independence Day among others.
When contacted on Wednesday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, did not answer the calls made to his telephone line.
As of the time of filing this report, he also has yet to reply the text message sent to him on the matter.
The SGF, Boss Mustapha, also did not reply the text message sent to him after his lines kept indicating that it was busy when our correspondent attempted to get his comment.
Recall that The PUNCH had reported on December 26, 2017 that Buhari failed to hold the event for two years.
When contacted that time, Shehu directed our correspondent to the Office of the SGF saddled with the responsibility of organising the investiture.
While the Office of the SGF did not explain why the investiture did not hold in 2015, it claimed that preparation for the 2017 edition was underway.
The event however did not take place that year.
The PUNCH reported then that the 2016 national honours’ investiture was stalled by the ill-health of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari, while Buhari refrained from conferring the awards in 2015 because he inherited a list of nominees considered not credible.
In the case of 2016, the government official said a list had already been prepared by the Office of the SGF.
He said the list had been submitted to the Chief of Staff to the President for the President’s approval.
He however said Kyari’s illness stalled the process.
The former SGF, Mr Babachir Lawal, had, in April 2016, reconstituted the Committee on National Honours Award.
The former SGF had stressed that the combined investiture ceremony for the 2015 and 2016 National Honours Award would be held in 2016. It did not hold.
At the last national honours award, held on September 29, 2014, Jonathan had honoured 313 persons for distinguishing themselves in their various fields of endeavours.