- National flag designer earns salary for life
By Lawrence Olaoye
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday at the National Honours Award (NHA) held in Abuja ordered that three indigent awardees including a taxi driver, Presidential Steward and Traffic Warden be given houses in Abuja by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Bala Mohammed for good conduct and exemplary service.
The trio of Imeh Usuah, a taxi driver who returned the sum of N18 million belonging to a passenger; Onuh Michael, a Presidential Steward who had diligently served nine Heads of State and Corporal Solomon Dauda, a Traffic Warden who had shown enough dexterity in the discharge of his duties, were each awarded the honour of the Member of the Order of Niger (MON).
Also, the septuagenarian, Pa Taiwo Akinkumi, who designed the national flag, was decorated with the honour of the Order of Federal Republic (OFR) just as Jonathan ordered that he be placed on the salary level equivalent to those of his Special Assistants for life.
Singling them out for further rewards, Jonathan said “Let me specially appreciate these people, the taxi driver, Imeh Usuah, Corporal Solomon Dauda, presidential steward, Mr. Isaac Michael Onuh. Those who take into criminalities because of poverty are not quite right, because I and some of you here knew where we are coming from. We passed through stress, but we didn’t take to criminality. For these gentlemen, we appreciate you. FCT Minister, give one flat each to the three of them.”
Commenting on the Presidential Steward, the President said, “A very dedicated steward who has served every heads of state loyally since President Shehu Shagari. To have survived about nine presidents and nine first ladies, you must be a great man.”
On the reward to the national flag designer, he said: “As someone who contributed so much to the history of this country, the person who designed the Nigerian flag, Pa Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi, who was also honoured here, you have to place him on a salary of Special Assistant to the President forever.”
Of the 313 awardees, 25 got the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR), 60, the Commander of the Order of Niger (CON), 54 were awarded the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR), Officers of the Order of Niger (OON) were 63, Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR), 53, while 56 were in the Member of the Order of Niger (MON) category.
Two Police officers, Adekoya Jamiu and Jafaru Wadzani bagged Federal Republic Medals, first and second-class respectively.
No one was however considered qualified for the highest award of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) and the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).
The President while giving reasons for the awards to the recipients said “A nation is void and soulless if she does not have those sacred values it holds dear and individuals who project them. It is in such men and women that you find the authentic inheritance of the generations and their nurturing. That is why a nation is poor that is not rich in people who carry noble values that are transferred from generation to generation.
No great nation will toy with honours that constitute her trans-generational character code. This was why I insisted last year that our National Honours must never be seen as a piece of paper or garland round the neck which individuals not worthy of honour can pick up and continue to project wrong values that diminish our heritage”.