I’ll hand over a Nigeria free of insecurity – Buhari assures

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday reassured Nigerians that he would hand over a Nigeria free of insecurity to the next set of leaders in 2023, assuring that his administration would root out all forms of banditry, criminality, terrorism and insurgency.

Buhari gave the reassurance at the 2022 National Honours Award Investiture held at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, where 440 distinguished Nigerians and seven foreigners were conferred with various national honours.

“We will continue to root out all forms of banditry, criminality, terrorism and insurgency in the land.

“As I stated earlier in my in- dependence address to the nation, I will hand over a Nigeria that is free from insecurity to the next generation of leaders,” Buhari assured.

According to the president, the national honours were not mere decoration but a reminder of citizens’ responsibility, saying that, “we must always endeavour to do our best for our country.”

Describing the event as a solemn and patriotic event, Buhari said awardees had distinguished themselves in the service of the nation and humanity, adding that he conferred the honours on them in accordance with the National Honours Act CAP N43 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

Their screening and selection, according to the president, followed established broad criteria including but not limited to “Consistent and meaningful participation in community and/or national development.

“Rendering unsolicited, selfless and philanthropic services to humanity; outstanding sacrifice in the de- fence of a cause popularly adjudged to be positive, relevant and beneficial to the nation and community.”

Buhari recalled that since the inception of his administration, there had not been any national honours awards investiture like yesterday’s event “except for the special investiture ceremony in honour of Chief MKO Abiola, Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe and Chief Gani Fawehinmi.”

According to him, their investiture ceremony was “specially carried out to right the wrong done in the past, to assuage our feelings and to resolve to stand firm now and the future for the sanctity of the electoral process and our democracy.

“In like manner, our country’s athletes were also honoured recently for their spectacular performances in several competitions.”

While submitting that citizens who contribute to national development deserve to be encouraged and appreciated, Buhari expressed delight that some of the recipients were not only doing Nigeria proud on the international scene but also serve as a source of inspiration to young Nigerian women that through hard work and dedication, they can achieve greatness.

“The patriotic Nigerians and our friends being honoured today (yesterday), have distinguished themselves in various ways for the purpose of recreating a new Nigeria of our dreams through respect for the rule of law, image laundering, transparency and accountability in management of scarce resources.

“Equally, those in the private sector have also creditably discharged themselves in business, entertainment, hospitality, transportation and other forms of human endeavours to transform Nigeria.

“We have amongst the recipients today, Ambassador Professor Tijjani Muham- mad-Bande, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Ms. Amina J. Mo- hammed and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who are doing our country proud on the international scene. Our dear sisters are a source of inspiration to our young women that through hard work and dedication, they can achieve greatness.

“We also have on the list, Imam Abdullahi Abubakar, a religious leader who hid over 262 Christians in his mosque from attacks in Yelwa Gindi Akwati village, in Plateau State.

“He is a good example of religious tolerance we preach amongst Nigerians. I am ex- cited that he is being honoured today with Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR).

“Worthy of mention are our artistes, particularly, our very own Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu (Burna Boy), who won the Grammy Awards in 2020. He along with other artistes have repositioned the Nigerian entertainment industry and placed it on the global map,” President Buhari said.

Eight years after losing her life trying to prevent spread of Ebola virus pandemic in Nigeria, Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoh was also honoured by President Buhari with a national award.

Dr Adadevoh, who died on August 19, 2014, placed the index patient, Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian, who was in the country for an Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) programme, in quarantine at the detriment of her own life.

The physician was posthumously conferred with the national award of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) at the 2022 National Honours Awards. Also among the awardees is a software engineer and entrepreneur, the Chief Executive and co-founder of Flutterwave, Mr Olugbenga Agboola, who bagged the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).

President Buhari declared that despite the present economic challenges, “Nigeria still boasts of men and women of integrity; Ms. Josephine Agu, an airport cleaner returned $12,200 found in a toilet at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, as well as Ogbanago Muhammed Ibrahim, a bank security man who found and returned $10,000.”

According to the president, “Today, we celebrate their dignity and strong strength of character by conferring National Honours on them. They are a shining example to our younger generation.”

Buhari, however, appealed to Nigerians yet to receive national awards to be patient, saying that, “their efforts in nation building are appreciated and at the right time, will similarly be recognised.”

Speaking earlier, the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, said the event was unique as it was the first time such an elaborate award was being held.

The minister said that the processes for the screening and selection of recipients commenced on August 8, 2021 when the president reconstituted the national awards committee, which was later inaugurated on September 16, 2021.

Akume said that over 5,000 applications were received by the committee before the 447 successful awardees eventually emerged. Speaking on behalf of the awardees, the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, who was conferred with the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON), said the occasion was that of acknowledging the contributions of the recipients to nation-building.

The Senate President assured that despite challenges, including insecurity, facing the country, the recipients shall remain unwavering in their ef- forts to develop Nigeria. Submitting that the honour awards were a call to duty on the part of recipients, Lawan called on the distinguished Nigerians and foreigners honoured to be steadfast and remain good ambassadors of Nigeria always

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