13th November, 2011
Just as he did some years ago, Professor Chinua Achebe, Nigerian literary giant has again rejected the national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR.
The award would have been conferred on him alongside about 360 other awardees in different categories at a ceremony scheduled for next Monday, 14 November.
The writer is the second nominee that is turning down the National Honours award. Femi Gbajabiamila, the Minority leader of the House of Representatives, had earlier written President Goodluck Jonathan to indicate his rejection of the award of Order of the Federation (OFR) to be conferred on him. The lawmaker had queried the criteria used in nominating recipeints for the 2011 National Honours. Gbajabiamila argued in the letter to the President that national awards should be only be conferred on those who have made concrete contributions to the development of the country, unlike now, when it is being indiscriminately doled out as presidential favours.
However, In a short statement he issued today to indicate that he will not be available to be conferred with the award next Monday,Â AchebeÂ said he is rejecting the award because the condition that made him do so seven years ago still exist in the country today.
â€œThe 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,â€ Achebe said in the letter which he reportedly sent to Nigeria Ambassador to the United States.
Achebe had in 2004 rejected offer of national award from the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in protest of the political situation in Nigeria and his native Anambra State then.
The US based writer had in the rejection letter he wrote to the then President noted that: â€œI 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.Â I am appalled by the brazenness of this clique and the silence, if not connivance, of the Presidency.
â€œForty 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 honours â€“ the Nigerian National Order of Merit and the Order of the Federal Republic â€“ and in 1999 the first National Creativity Award.
â€œI accepted all these honours 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.Â 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 honour awarded me in the 2004 Honours Listâ€.