NATIONAL HONOURS OR NATIONAL DISHONOUR?- By Ambassador Lilian Onoh

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When my Late Father, His Excellency Chief C.C. Onoh, Former Governor of Old Anambra State (now Enugu, Anambra and Ebonyi) was awarded an OON, I think by former President Obasanjo, he immediately rejected it. Ditto for the CON.  I asked him why and he said that not only was a mere OON/CON an insult to him, having governed three states and being the only Governor that Maj-General Buharidid not jail for corruption after the 1983 Coup, he could not allow himself to be included in the list of the corrupt officials given the honours with him.  He said accepting it would be a National Dishonour.  I laughed then.  I laugh now.

On 11th October 2022, President Buhari did his first National Awards Ceremony in over 7 years.  There was a smattering of people who genuinely deserve to be honoured, including Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chimamanda Adichieand Late General Attahiru and all the officers on the ill-fated 2021 crash.  

But I don’t think that either Dr. Okonjo-Iweala or Ms. Adichie’s towering global profiles were in any way enhancedby this “honour” – in fact, they are the ones who gave honour to the occasion.  I congratulate them and the forty or so persons on that list of 447 who genuinely deserve to be honoured.

Whilst I cannot speak about most of the people on the list, I can definitively speak on the awardees from Foreign Affairs.  

We discovered that the Ambassador that committed Visa Fraud against America and many countries, whose actions have caused endless troubles for Nigerians seeking American Visas and who the Minister Onyeama confirmed was reporting to the EFCC weekly for this offence, has been honoured with an OON for her dishonourable conduct. Thus, her sole achievement for getting an OON is Multi-national Visa Racketeering and Human Trafficking, and sacking junior officers in the Ministry to cover up her crimes.  The Government may wish to tell the public what else she contributed to the Nation to warrant the award, which is a message to the International Community that the Nigerian Government is proud of her visa racketeering and human trafficking activities, which led to cancellation of visas forsome of our diplomats and their families.  

Another one, whose dubious activities in London led him to beg the British Police to discontinue investigations into a robbery in his house when they queried the source of the huge amount of cash stolen from him, was likewise honoured. I don’t know what else he contributed to the Nation other than gross abuses which were listed in a report by one of our highest ranking intelligence officers.  I don’t know the other people from the Ministry that were honoured and I have absolutely no idea what they did to merit the honour, which is said to be for “people who have distinguished themselves in their professions, contributing to the National Development.”

The Ministry has a pool of excellent retired ambassadors, whose achievements are clear, including the Ambassador that handled the repatriation of Nigerians from South Africaduring the xenophobic attacks of 2019; the Ambassador whohandled our aid to SWAPO, ANC and FRELEMO during the Apartheid era as a junior officer; and the one who as a mere Counsellor, drafted and successfully negotiated the UN Resolution that enables Nigeria and all countries to demand the repatriation of stolen loot stashed overseas.  These deserve to be honoured.  Their achievements are indelible. But would they want their names listed alongside visa racketeers and thieves?

Leah Sharibu deserves the highest National Honour. She was only 14 years old when she was abducted in 2018 by terrorists and despite the million promises by this Administration, she remains abandoned in captivity for refusing to renounce Jesus Christ. She is a real Field Marshal. 

I leave Nigerians from other walks of life to comment on those other awardees whose malfeasance are well known but which I do not have documentary proof of, as I do with those in MFA.

But looking at the large number of Government Officials on the list whose sole achievements were doing their jobs badly, corruptly or mediocre at best, not to mention an Ambassador with an EFCC Case for International Visa Racketeering and Human Trafficking, I have to ask if this is the official declaration that the War against Corruption is permanently suspended; and secondly, if this was supposed to be National Honours or National Dishonour; and if the Honourables amongst them are not diminished by association with so many Dishonourables. 

If after 7 years, this list of 447 Awardees is the evidence of the much-vaunted war against corruption, and excepting those whose genuine achievements need no introduction or debate, I think I will join my late Father in calling it a National Roll of Dishonour.©

Addendum:  I have since read that Ms. Chimamanda Adichierejected the “honour”.

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