President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday decorated two prominent Nigerians, Prof Adesoji Adesina and Mr Bruce Onobrakpeya with the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM).
NNOM is an academic award conferred on distinguished academicians and intellectuals who have made outstanding contributions to the academic, growth and development of Nigeria.
The event which took place at the executive chamber of the Presidential Villa was performed on the President’s behalf by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Adesina was recognized for his research work in engineering technology while Onobrakpeya was honoured for his creativity in arts and humanities spanning more than 60 years.
The President noted that the awardees distinguished themselves in their various disciplines adding that the award was the highest bestowed on any individual by the country for intellectual achievement of national and global importance.
He noted that the awardees brought to 75 the number of such recipients since its introduction 38 years ago.
According to him, the recipients epitomized the highest degree of innovation and creativity.
He noted that while Adesina developed many chemical materials as well as trained many graduates including 42 PhD alumni now professors in highly ranked institutions and petrochemical industries.
He added that Onobrakpeya since pre-independence projected the African personality, propagated the concept of natural synthesis and advocated important social causes through arts.
The President noted that Onobrakpeya had shown that the artist was not just an entertainer but also a social commentator.
“Every winner of the NNOM is unique and on behalf of the President and the people of Nigeria I congratulate you both on this great achievement.
“You are not just national treasures; you are now important milestones in the chequared history of Nigeria’s upward trajectory.
“Your stories and attainments now inspire the future; it is on the steady shoulders of your achievements that the coming generations of Nigerian artists and scientists will stand with confidence and hope.
“This is the awesome responsibility that you bear,’’ the President noted.
The President commended the board of the NNOM Awards and the assessors for a job well done and urged them not to rest on their oars.
Accordingly, he promised that the administration would study the recommendations in the communiqué of the annual forum of the laureates and would continue to support the development of research innovation capacity.
The President noted that Nigeria is a nation of great people and talent noting that the nation’s human capital “is the greatest resource that we have not our crude oil or solid minerals or land’’.
He said that posterity called on the Nigerian elite, intellectual and religious leadership to ensure that the human resource did not remain stranded at the level of potential but instead harnessed for the good of all.
Meanwhile, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has
congratulated Onobrakpeya over his conferment, saying the award to the
octogenarian artist is a great boost for the Creative Industry.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday, the Minister said the
recognition and honour accorded Mr. Onobrakpeya by the Federal
Government will go a long way to inspire young artists in particular
and the entire Creative Industry in general.
He said the conferment of the great award on Mr. Onobrakpeya has put
him in the same league as other great creative minds like Prof. Wole
Soyinka, the late Prof. Chinua Achebe, Mr. Laz Ekwueme and the late
Ladi Kwali, all past winners of the most-coveted award for
distinguished academicians and intellectuals.
”There is no doubt that Mr. Onobrakpeya, over the years, has been a
towering figure and a great inspiration to young artists, but this
award marks the highest point in his career as an artist.
”Mr. Onobrakpeya remains a great ambassador of Nigeria, having
exhibited his works in the UK, U.S. and Sweden, just to mention a few,
and with his works adorning great museums and art galleries all over
the world,” Mohammed said.
While thanking the Federal Government for honouring Mr. Onobrakpeya, the Minister wishes the great artist many more years of creativity and good