A group, Movement for Good Governance and Democracy, has berated the exclusion of the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom from the list of recipients of National Awards 2022.
The President of the group, Bernard Osakwe, in a statement, said Governor Ortom has done well in the area of security by championing the ban of open grazing in the country, a practice which has caused attacks on farmers for many years.
The group wondered whether Ortom’s exclusion was based on political differences. However, it urged that national awards be given to deserving Nigerians not minding political and policy differences of individuals with the fed.
The Statement reads: “on Monday, October 11, 2022, President Muhammadu conferred various National Awards on Nigerians and foreigners who were said to have distinguished themselves in various fields of life and have contributed in a way or two to National development.
“Those awardees were politicians, businessmen and women, lawyers, clergymen, traditional rulers, musicians, security personnel and a host of other disciplines.
“The categories of the National Awards conferred on the recipients were Grand Commander of the Order of Niger GCON, Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria CFR, Commander of the Order of Niger CON, and Officer of the Federal Republic OFR.
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“While we commend President Buhari for honouring some Nigerians, we equally heartily congratulate those who have received the national awards.
“However, there is no justification why some names of prominent and patriotic Nigerians could not make the list for national awards.
“For instance, one could not understand how the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom was not deserving of a national award amongst the over four hundred people that were selected.
“Ortom has shown patriotism and sacrifice to this country in terms of security. Governor Ortom was a lone voice advocating for ranching when the Federal Government and other state Governors were against the policy.
“The enactment of anti-grazing law which many states have adopted even though they were reluctant at first, is enough to earn the Governor a national award.
“Ortom has championed the right policy and practice for animal husbandry even as the Buhari government feels otherwise. Ortom has made history and written his name in gold.
“While we think but not concluding that political difference could have been the reason for Ortom’s exclusion from the award list knowing how vehement he has been on the Federal Government on its failure to address insecurity in the country, we see this brand of politics and government as anti-development because criticisms are essentials to good governance.
“Ortom may not be selected for a national award today even though he merits it, but he remains the hero of anti-open grazing in Nigeria.
“Therefore, we urge successive governments to learn to accept criticisms and award those who may have been hard on them, because their criticisms are patriotism in themselves.”