Prof. Chinua Achebe Rejects Nigerian Award, Jonathan Reacts

Nov 14, 2011 – Prof. Chinua Achebe Rejects Nigerian Award, Jonathan Reacts

Professor Chinua Achebe, Nigerian literary giant has once 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.

Reasons For Chinua Achebe’s Rejection of Award

However, In a short statement he issued today to indicate that he will not be available to be conferred with the award next Monday,  Achebe said he is rejecting the award because the condition that made him do so seven years ago still exist in the country today.

“The 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,” 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: “I 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.  I am appalled by the brazenness of this clique and the silence, if not connivance, of the Presidency.

Forty 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 – the Nigerian National Order of Merit and the Order of the Federal Republic – and in 1999 the first National Creativity Award.

I 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.  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 List”.

Chinua Achebe Ignorant of Nigerian Situation, says President Jonathan

In a statement issued on his behalf by Reuben Abati, his spokesperson, the President Jonathan also said he surprised by “Achebe’s claim that the issues which caused him to reject the same award seven years ago, still remain unresolved” arguing that the literary giant may not be aware of true contemporary political situation in Nigeria.

“Coming as it does, against the background of the widely acclaimed electoral reforms undertaken by the Jonathan Administration, the claim by Prof. Achebe clearly flies in the face of the reality of Nigeria’s current political situation.

“As reflected in the immense improvements recorded in the conduct of the last general elections which were applauded within and outside the country as the most credible elections in Nigeria in recent years, the Jonathan Administration has made tremendous efforts to positively change the political architecture complained about by Prof. Achebe and other Nigerians.

“Politically, Nigeria cannot be said to be where it was in 2004 as the Jonathan Administration has embarked on extensive electoral reforms to institute a regime of electoral integrity that all Nigerians can be proud of, believing that governance will be greatly enhanced in the country if the will of the people prevails at elections.

“While President Jonathan acknowledges that there are still challenges in the path of Nigeria’s attainment of its full potentials as a nation, he believes that his Administration is moving the country in the right direction and therefore deserves the support, encouragement and cooperation of all citizens.

“The President continues to hold Prof. Achebe in very high esteem in spite of his regrettable decision which may have been borne out of misinformation as to the true state of affairs in Nigeria and hopes that he will find time to visit home soon and see the progress being made by the Jonathan Administration for himself.

“Prof. Achebe remains in President Jonathan’s consideration, a national icon, a Nigerian of high attainments, indeed one of the greatest living Africans of our time”, Abati concluded in the statement he signed on behalf of his boss.(Pm news)

Do you think turning down the award is a good move by Chinua Achebe!