President Muhammadu Buhari has conferred the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) for years 2020 and 2021 on three esteemed Nigerian scholars in the field of medicine and science.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a signed statement on Tuesday, revealing that the President expressed optimism that Nigeria’s collective future rests on active participation in science and technology.
Conferring the award on the late Charles Ejike Chidume, Science (2020), Oluyinka Olurotimi Olutoye, Medicine (2020); and Godwin O. Samuel Ekhaguere, Science (2021), Buhari added that he was very proud to welcome the new Laureates to the prestigious league of highly honoured citizens.
“Please endeavour, at all times, to serve as beacons of hope and aspiration for the younger generation of Nigerians, reminding them that our survival and collective future as a nation ultimately rests on our being active participants in global developmental efforts, especially in science and technology,” Buhari said.
While congratulating the three awardees, the President expressed the government’s appreciation for the patience of the 2020 Award winners, who had to wait close to two years to receive their Award due to the emergence of Covid-19 in 2020.
The President noted that the Nigerian National Merit Award (NNMA) was established 43 years ago, the addition of the three recipients would bring the total number of recipients to only 79, confirming the high standards of the Award and undeniable testimony of the strict adherence to quality and the merit-driven evaluation procedure for selecting laureates.
He added that the integrity of the Award also underscores the high expectations of the nation that the new recipients, like their predecessors, would continue to hold the banners of creativity and intellectual excellence very high.
The President also congratulated members of the Governing Board of the NNMA under the Chairmanship of Shekarau Yakubu Aku, as well as members of the Four Specialized Committees of Assessors and External Assessors for their integrity and transparency, and for the excellent work they have done.
“The noble idea of constituting the Assessors Committees, whose membership is not disclosed to the public, ensures credibility that could be emulated by other Government Agencies performing similar functions.
“The fact that transparency and love for the Nation have been the hallmark of your stewardship is well borne out by the fact that the NNOM Award is one of the enduring national legacies that are held in high regard globally and nationally and your decisions have been well acclaimed and controversy-free over the years.
“Let me assure you that the Government and People of Nigeria appreciate your efforts and I enjoin you all to keep up the good work,” the President said.
In his remarks, the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, George Akume said the three intellectuals emerged winners for the 2020 and 2021 Award after the selection process, from the over 1,200 applications received by the Nigerian National Order of Merit(NNOM) Governing Board during the period under consideration.
“It is important to state that Charles Ejike Chidume died after he was selected and recommended for approval to the President and he will be given the award posthumously,” he said.
The Minister called on Nigerian universities to rise up to the challenge and continue to lead in innovative research targeted at providing solutions to the myriad of problems affecting the country, especially post COVID-19 era.