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Buhari confers 2017 National Merit awards on Adesina, Onobrakpeya



President Muhammadu Buhari has conferred the 2017 prestigious Nigerian National Order of Merit Award (NNOM) on two Nigerians and celebrated artist,  Bruce  Obomoyema Onobrakpeya, and Professor Adesoji Adesina.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo decorated the two outstanding Nigerians on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari at the council chambers of the presidential villa, Abuja.
Speaking at the brief ceremony, President Buhari lauded the recipients and assured that the federal government will continue to support research and innovation in the country.

He said posterity would not forgive government functionaries if they fail to provide support for research activities, adding that every winner of the NNOM award was unique, describing the recipients as “milestones of Nigeria’s checkered history.”

The President also commended the award recipients for the intellectual feat they have attained and challenged them to further deploy their huge experiences to advance the course of the society, just as he tasked the duo to borrow from the words of Bernard Baruch that “man can’t retire his experience but must use it.”

While welcoming them into the  “prestigious league” of Nigerian National Order of Merit, President Buhari who praised the Governing Board of NMA, said the board had, so far, identified 75 recipients of the award and added that the award “epitomises the finest of Nigerian innovation.” 

While extolling the qualities of the recipients, Osinbajo observed that the works of Adesina in engineering and technology span over three decades in various fields including mining, defence, manufacturing, among others, with over 400 publications and competitive research grants.

Buhari also said Adesina had trained a number of students including 42 PhD holders who are now professors, executives in petrochemical industry and captains of engineering designs in various parts of the world.

“To date, Prof. Adesina is credited with nearly 450 refereed publications, patents and books. He has supervised more than 100 graduate students to completion, including 42 PhD alumni with a truly global hue. Among these former students are university professors in highly-ranked institutions, executives of the petrol-chemical processing industries, government dignitaries and captains of engineering design and consulting firms located throughout China, South-east Asia, Middle East, Europe, USA, Canada and Australia. He has won over $15 million in competitive research grants from government and industry sponsors,” the President noted.

In the same vein, President Buhari who said the works of Onobrakpeya in arts and humanities have spanned six decades described the celebrated artist as a painter, initiator of art, author and philanthropist.

According to him, Onobrakpeya had received over 30 awards and appointments in recognition of his excellent and intellectual contributions to humanity as well as lifetime awards.

He further described Onobrakpeya as a social commentator, whose works of art date back to 1957, the period he described as the early development of arts in the country. 

Describing him as an advocate of social causes who focuses on social developments, the President further said Onobrakoeya’s artworks including paintings on divine prayer for help have also addressed political instability, sociological problems while his contemporary works border on the murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa and broken pipes.

Responding on behalf of the recipients, Adesina who expressed gratitude for the honour by the government, described the event as memorable. 
He also expressed appreciation for all the efforts made by the Governing Board of the Nigerian National Merit Award towards the success of the award.

Born in April 1952, Adesina who obtained first class honours in Chemical Engineering in June, 1980 at the University of Lagos, later obtained PhD in the University of Waterloo in Canada in 1986. 
He left the University of Port Harcourt as a lecturer in 1989 for the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and became a professor in 2004. He initiated and developed an internationally renowned group of reactor engineering and technology.
Onobrakpeya, on his part, was born in August 1932 and obtained Diploma in F.A. of London University and postgraduate Art Teachers’ Certificate in Zaria. 

He has participated in over 68 exhibitions in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America with his works found in the most prestigious museums and galleries such as the Vatican Museum in Rome, Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC., the Suomi in Finland and Victory Museum in Baghdad. 

His works are used to decorate notable places in Nigeria such as the office of Nigeria’s president in the Presidential Villa, Abuja and Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.

‎Speaking to State House Correspondents one of the recipients, Onobrakpeya described the award as “a very high point” of his artistic career. 
He said the federal government’s recognition and gesture “is something which I treasure very much and hope that it would inspire the younger people. 
“Our art is going through a period of a renaissance, and we are asking that the president should facilitate this upward swing by doing a lot of things for the artists in Nigeria. 
According to him, one of them, is the creation of an enabling environment for them to work in, provision of studios and befitting art villages, museums and galleries among others in every city.
“Also to ask that if there are ‎abandoned properties by the federal government, they should give them to the artists to use to create things. And the other thing I want to say is to ask the government to help to fund informal educational set up like the one I set up in Agbara-Otor which today is going to about 20 years old. 
“That workshop empowers young people. They come there and selected professionals are there to guide them. They receive scholarships and when they come out whatever they do now gives them job to do. And so, that takes them out of parading the streets to ask for jobs. So, if it is funded very well, it also helps to repay the environment where such workshops are situated. 
“It brings peace, it brings people from all over the federation, even from West Africa, and when they interact it brings in peace and understanding and well-being to the nation,” he said.
Prof Godwin Dara who accompanied the awardee ‎to the investiture said, “we are all co-winners in this matter because we are inspired by one of the greatest persons in the world to be honoured. 
Dara who is Professor of Oral Literature and Folklore at Delta State University, Abraka, said “We have benefited so much from his own works, philosophies and ideas and his elevation of Urhobo folklore and traditions we feel so renewed now with this prize.
Also speaking, one of the 2016 recipients of the award, Tanure Ojaide who was also on hand to celebrate with the 2017 awardees, yesterday expressed pleasure that his kinsman was found worthy for recognition by the board of the NNMA.
“you know I was the winner last year. So, it is a great pleasure that somebody from close by, from the same Urhobo culture, could inspire such great works of arts that are recognized all over the world.

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Jonathan warns Buhari against rigging Ekiti poll



Former President Goodluck Jonathan has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against succumbing to pressure to subjugate democracy by rigging the Ekiti State governorship election, in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC), stating that such action would haunt him at the end of his tenure.


Dr. Jonathan also advised him against bowing to any such pressure to use presidential powers negatively, but urged President Buhari to use his powers to strengthen democracy in Nigeria. The former President, who gave this advice during the inauguration of the first over-head bridge in Ado- Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, warned that President Buhari would be haunted by posterity if he does “because what you go with is the name that you leave behind.”


His words: “I don’t believe anybody can defeat the PDP in Ekiti if election is going to be held. I want to advise President Buhari not to deploy power to truncate Ekiti election. Though as a President, you have the power, but don’t do that because of posterity. History will record whatever you do and the power of a leader is determined after leaving office and not when he is in the office.


“The will of the people must be allowed to stand at all times, because power belongs to them and we must respect their verdict through the ballots. I am using this opportunity to call on Mr. President. I was there, and


I know (that) when you are there, there is so much pressure from everybody to use all the powers you have to subjugate democracy,” he said. He, therefore, called on Buhari not to bow to pressure by attempting to subjugate democracy in Nigeria, as doing that would amount to undermining the country’s path to greatness.


Jonathan said that advanced countries of the world today achieved greatness from the selfless sacrifices made by both leaders and followers. Part of the sacrifices, he said, made by their leaders includes not interfering with the democratic process that brings in successive leaders into office.


“All the great democracies you are seeing in the world, those great countries were built by people who made sacrifices to make their countries great.” Jonathan also used the opportunity to commend Nigerian youths whom he described as great and hardworking people. Although he admitted that the youths were confronted with challenges, especially not being encouraged with creativity, he called on governments at all levels to encourage them to be hard-working. He further stated: “We have challenges – no power for creativity. With the limits we have, we know the great things you are doing.”


The former President expressed optimism that with the level of support by the people, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is a party to beat in the forthcoming election. Jonathan further called on Ekiti people to vote for the PDP in the July 14 governorship polls even as he thanked them for their support to Governor Ayodele Fayose. He commended PDP for choosing youthful governorship candidate and his running mate, adding: “Nigerian youths are not lazy. I don’t believe that, because I have worked with them closely.

They are great people with great potential who should be celebrated by any leader.” In a veiled reference to Buhari’s recent statement abroad, he said “As leaders we must make sure we present a country that will make us proud and not to use our country as a negative example in Africa to the outside world.


The idea of portraying Nigerians’ negative manners had occurred on two occasions under this present government. These are mistakes we should not make.” He thanked the people for their support for the PDP since 2015 and urged them to do more in the coming governorship election.


“Fayose will never compromise the interest of Ekiti people for anything. He is a leader who speaks truth to power. In fact, Fayose is a leader and he has done well for his people. Any leader who wants to encourage his people must encourage the education of the youth. If you don’t encourage the youths, they will be exploited. “As youths, you have to be aware that we are operating a knowledge-based economy. So you must be proficient in the use of computer. You can’t compromise this if you want to fit into the 21st  century economy,” he said.

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Don’t vote APC, PDP in 2019, Ezekwesili tells Nigerians



Former Minister of Education and Convener of the famous “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign group, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, yesterday told Nigerians not to vote for candidates of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 elections, saying that they have both failed integrity test.


Ezekwesili said this during her speech at the South -West Regional launch of the ‘Red Card Movement’, a Citizens Movement for good governance in Nigeria. The group promised to give Nigeria a credible alternative to President Muhammdu Buhari to take over the mantle of leadership in the country.


Noting that both PDP and APC have been given red card by good citizens of Nigeria because they have contributed immensely to the failure of the system, the minister who served during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo said, “Nigerians are tired of bad leadership which the nation has been experiencing since independence and that is the reason why we are giving red card to political class.


When credible leaders begin to govern our local government councils, states and federal government, Nigeria will become the most productive country in the world. Nigeria will become the most competitive country in the world.

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Killings: We won’t vote irresponsible govt in 2019 –Methodist Prelate



The Prelate, Methodist Church of Nigeria, His Eminence Dr. Samuel Kanu, yesterday proclaimed that the church will not support the emergence of an “irrelevant and irresponsible” person as President of the country.


Dr. Kanu disclosed this when he led other Bishops and members of the church to a courtesy call on Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, at the Government House in Makurdi to commiserate with him and people of the state over recent killing of two Catholic Priests and 17 parishioners who were murdered inside the church and buried last Tuesday.


“We are appealing that this government in power should rise up to the occasion because any government that does not protect lives and property is irrelevant, irresponsible and will not be allowed to continue in power. We as a church are neither for PDP, APC, APGA, LP nor any other political party in Nigeria, we are for everybody and all we want is good governance and anybody that gives us good governance is the person we will support at all times,” he said.


He said Christian leaders in the country have been watching with deep concern the spate of killings in Benue and other states in the Middle Belt region and are disturbed at the alarming rate of Fulani herdsmen attacks and destruction of lives and property with impunity.


The Prelate, who stated that the church has endorsed the Anti-grazing Law validly passed by the state House of Assembly said, gone are the old days when cattle were moved about during which they strayed into people’s farms and destroyed their means of livelihood.


He implored the Federal Government to adopt ranching which is the best global practice of animal husbandry. “We the Methodist Church support and endorse the Grazing Bill passed by the state House of Assembly because the action is a step in the right direction.


“In modern times, moving cattle around and destroying people’s means of livelihood has become obsolete and no longer obtainable elsewhere in the world. Some of us who have visited nations like South Korea, Britain, the USA and other developed countries where ranches are built for cattle, can attest to the fact that ranching is the modern way of rearing cattle. Dr. Kanu commended the National Economic Council (NEC) presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for endorsing ranching as the way out of the present nagging situation.


While condemning the killing of people of the state especially two Catholic Priests and 17 parishioners by armed Fulani herdsmen, the Methodist Prelate described the dastardly attack as “The height of irresponsibility, wickedness and hostility” and insisted, it was unacceptable to the church.


“The Methodist Church believes that everybody irrespective of tribe and ethnic cleavages should live in Nigeria freely, practice their religion freely, associate freely and do their businesses freely. We must warn that these killings have become an intolerable nuisance and will no longer be accepted”.


He noted that the church will not relent in its prayers for Benue, Adamawa, Taraba, Yobe, Borno and the entire North East, North west as well as North Central states for the return of permanent peace. He appealed to the government in power and sponsors of the senseless killings to sheathe their swords and embrace peace and dialogue in order to have a prosperous and progressive Nigeria.

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