Sunday, November 13, 2011

Again, Chinua Achebe Rejects Nigerian National Honour

...President Jonathan Regrets Writer's Decision...

Foremost Nigerian writer and author of the classic, Things Fall Apart, Professor Chinua Achebe, has turned down the National Honour awarded him by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Achebe who was nominated for Nigeria's third highest Honour -- The Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) would have been one of the 364 Nigerians to be conferred with various Honours on Monday, November 14, 2011. 

Chinua Achebe

In statement, Achebe who had rejected the same award given to him by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2004, declared: 

"The reasons for rejecting the offer when it was first made have not been addressed let alone solved. It is inappropriate to offer it again to me. I must therefore regretfully decline the offer again."

Achebe who will be 81 on November 16 is David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, United States. 
In a swift reaction on Sunday, November 13, President Jonathan regretted Achebe's decision to excuse himself from the Honour.  
"Coming as it does, against the background of the widely acclaimed electoral reforms undertaken by the Jonathan Administration, the claim by Prof. Achebe clearly flies in the face of the reality of Nigeria’s current political situation,"  a statement from the Presidency said.

"Politically," the statement continued,  "Nigeria cannot be said to be where it was in 2004 as the Jonathan Administration has embarked on extensive electoral reforms to institute a regime of electoral integrity that all Nigerians can be proud of, believing that governance will be greatly enhanced in the country if the will of the people prevails at elections. While President Jonathan acknowledges that there are still challenges in the path of Nigeria’s attainment of its full potentials as a nation, he believes that his Administration is moving the country in the right direction and therefore deserves the support, encouragement and cooperation of all citizen."

President Goodluck Jonathan and VP Namadi Sambo During
The Inauguration Party In Abuja

 Concluding, the Presidency stated that despite his rejection of the award, "Prof. Achebe remains, in President Jonathan’s consideration, a national icon, a Nigerian of high attainments, indeed one of the greatest living Africans of our time."
While rejecting the National Honour in 2004, Achebe in a letter to President Obasanjo had stated:
“I write this letter with a very heavy heart. For some time now I have watched events in Nigeria with alarm and dismay. I have watched particularly the chaos in my own state of Anambra where a small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connections in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom.  I am appalled by the brazenness of this clique and the silence, if not connivance, of the Presidency.

“Forty three years ago, at the first anniversary of Nigeria's independence I was given the first Nigerian National Trophy for Literature. In 1979, I received two further honors – the Nigerian National Order of Merit and the Order of the Federal Republic – and in 1999 the first National Creativity Award.

“I accepted all these honors fully aware that Nigeria was not perfect; but I had a strong belief that we would outgrow our shortcomings under leaders committed to uniting our diverse peoples.  Nigeria's condition today under your watch is, however, too dangerous for silence. I must register my disappointment and protest by declining to accept the high honor awarded me in the 2004 Honors List”.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo


A public affairs analyst observed in Lagos today that Nigerian National Honours appear to have been grievously debased and do not seem to represent any more those sterling ideals like distinction in character, industry  and exceptional accomplishment which they were original meant to celebrate, and so a man of impeccable honour like Achebe is perfectly justified to seek to disassociate himself from them.
He wondered why Nigeria should be giving out National Honours at a time corruption is so rife in the country, insecurity of lives of property so pronounced, and quality of life badly devalued.

"Such a preoccupation does not portray us as serious people before the outside world," he declared.


1 comment:

  1. People have reasons for their decisions, and I cannot fault Dr. Achebe for turning this down. The value of Nigerian national awards have become a dime a dozen, given to people because of their office and not their service to the nation. I would not accept it, either.


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