Only 76 Nigerians Bag National Order of Merit Since 1979- NNMA Charmian
A total of 76 distinguished Nigerians have so far been bestowed with Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) by the Nigerian National Merit Award (NNMA) since its introduction by the Federal Government in 1979.
The first recipients of such award were Prof Teslim Olawale Elias, Prof. Thomas Adeoye Lambo, Prof. Chinua Achebe and Alhaji Abubakar Imam. They were conferred with the merit award in 1979 by the then Head of State General Olusegun Obasanjo.
Chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian National Merit Award (NNMA), Professor Shekarau Yakubu Aku, who disclosed this at the 2019 Second Award Winners’ Lecture in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria yesterday, said the award was instituted to stimulate and reward Nigeria’s intellectual, academic and professional excellence for national development.
The lecture, entitled ’70 Plus of Drama: Reminiscences as Actor, Playwright and Connoisseur of Drama’, was delivered by renowned linguistics scholar, Professor Umaru Balarabe Ahmed, who was a 2006 recipient of the Nigerian National Order of Merit award.
Prof Aku also said the award winners’ lecture was aimed at providing first hand insights into the issues that laureates of the Nigerian National Order of Merit considered crucial to national development that deserved the attention of all Nigerians.
The recipients, according to him, were people who had made outstanding valuable contributions to national and global attainments in all fields of human endeavours that included engineering and technology, humanities, education and culture as well as medicine and science.
“The Governing Board of the NNMA from 1979 to date has conferred the prestigious award of the NNOM on 76 distinguished Nigerians including your own son Professor Umaru Balarabe Ahmed (the 2019 award winners’ lecturer). It may therefore interest you to note that as a policy of the board recipients of the NNOM are expected to deliver Award Winners’ Lectures in academic environments, at least, once in their lifetimes”, he said.
Professor Aku also said all the beneficiaries of the award had gained both national and international recognition and that he was thrilled that the lecture took place right in the midst of distinguished laureates, academics, intellectuals as well as students from diverse fields of endeavour.
The board chairman described the award winners’ lecturer as a man to be reckoned with as his contributions to the nation’s educational sector had no doubt been a radical force of transformation and enlightenment.
Professor Aku also described him as a multi-talented playwright, poet, novelist, a great scholar and translator, saying his illuminating works had not only earned him a place in Nigeria’s history but also a good name for generations yet unborn.
He urged Nigerians to recommit themselves to appreciating the outstanding contributions of the Nigerian National Merit Award and its laureates to national growth and development, thereby reaffirming the commitment of the board towards generating the needed innovations for nurturing the country’s fast evolving democratic culture..
Earlier in his address of welcome, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Ibrahim Garba, expressed gratitude to the Nigerian National Merit Award for picking Ahmadu Bello University as the venue for this year’s Award Winners’ Lecture for the fact that the university was the place where the award winners’ lecturer spent his lifetime as an academic.
The Vice-Chancellor, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic, Prof Danladi Amodu Ameh, also said the award winners’ lecturer was a well-known academic, saying that his academic strides would certainly spur the younger generations to rise up to the occasion.
Alheri Davo (Mrs.)