Today’s national newspapers, especially ThisDay, were quite bulky. When my copy was brought to me, I thought, judging from its thickness, that it was probably another political titan’s birthday or their daughter’s wedding celebration, and the minions were falling over themselves giving praise. I was wrong however. The several extra pages (which were indeed congratulatory messages) were to convey felicitations to various recipients of this year’s Presidential National Honours; men and women who are being honoured for “distinguished public service.”
I know that’s what they’re being honoured for, because that’s what the National Honours Act (see here) prescribes for inscription on the obverse side of the honours medal.
It’s probably going to be useless information, but here’s some more information the National Honours Act provides:
- There are 2 Orders of Dignity – Order of the Federal Republic and Order of the Niger.
- Each order comprises four ranks, namely – Grand Commander, Commander, Officer and Member
It seems the Order of the Federal Republic is the more distinguished one, because the Act places a lower limit on the maximum number of persons that can be appointed to its ranks in a calendar year. The maximum number of people that can be conferred with the different categories of honours each year are as follows:
- GCFR – 2; GCON -10
- CFR -20; CON -30
- OFR – 50; OON – 100
- MFR and MON have a maximum of 100 recipients each.
To be eligible for an award, the recipient must be a citizen of Nigeria. However, non-citizens can be honorary holders (not sure I get the distinction, or why it’s necessary then, but that’s what it says). The Act appears to be silent on whether or not honours can be conferred posthumously, but, to borrow the words of Brutus, Dr. Doyin Okupe is an honourable man. So it is possible that an amendment has since been passed and the copy of the Act that I consulted is dated.
A person is appointed to a rank when (s)he receives the insignia for the rank and an instrument (i.e. a document, letter, etc) signed by the President, sealed with the public seal of the Federation, conferring the rank. The President is however allowed to direct conferment on a person in any manner he feels is expedient.
When a person is promoted, (s)he is no longer entitled to hold [or use the insignia of] the lower rank. The government may request that insignia of the previous rank be returned upon promotion.
The President also has the power to deprive of rank anyone who has behaved in a manner not consistent with the dignity of the rank. I was unable to find any record of this power having ever been used.
And that’s it. Congratulations to this year’s recipients, deserving or otherwise.