Soyinka, Fela, Gani Reject Centenary Awards

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Three nominees for the Federal Government’s Centenary awards have rejected them in protest at the state of the affairs in the country.

A hundred awards are to be handed out as part of the celebrations of the 100 years of Nigeria’s existence as a nation but the families of late human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and afrobeat king, Fela Anikulapo Kuti have made it clear they won’t be receiving them.

A third awardee, Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, also criticised the awards, saying:  “I would have preferred that the entire day of infamy be ignored altogether. I’m even thinking favourably of just ignoring the obscenity, then turning up at the counter-event.”

Also, Femi Kuti, son of the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, said on social media: “We have not heard such but I can speak for myself, Federal Government should first apologise for the killing of our grandmother and the burning of Kalakuta.”

Femi said although the family had not been contacted by the Federal Government, he said that the family would not accept any centenary award in his honour.

The same approach is being taken by the family of late lawyer, Chief Gani Fawheinmi, who have also cited the nomination of the dubious people for the same award, the insurgency in the North-East and failure to rein in corruption as reasons for rejecting on behalf of their late patriarch.

“We want to thank the Federal Government for considering our late father for this honour. However, for reasons stated here under, our family has decided it would be inexpedient to accept the award,” the family said in a letter to the presidency via the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim.

The letter signed by by Mohammed Fawehinmi, for and on behalf of late Gani Fawehinmi family, read in part: “Our late father was empathetic to the sufferings of our people, particularly students. In the last 72 hours, 43 innocent students were mowed down by the blood- thirsty Boko Haram terrorists in Yobe State, while 20 other girls were similarly abducted by this same band of terrorists. These girls are still in captivity while their fate is unknown.

“If our late father were to be alive, would he be wining and dining with all the glitterati at a Centenary celebration under these circumstances? Certainly no.

“In the past few weeks, the polity has been assaulted with putrid odour of corruption with the alleged $20 billion missing in NNPC, a development that became the Archilles heel of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the suspended Governor of Central Bank.

“As an anti-corruption activist, if he were to be alive, our late father would have confronted the issue head-long and possibly gone to court. With the issue still raging, would our late father have accepted this award at this critical moment? Certainly no,” the family stated.

The letter added: “For these reasons, our family respectfully declines to receive the award about to be conferred on our late father by the government.”

On his part, Professor Soyinka, said he was planning to be at an alternate centenary awards planned in London on June 27.

The London awards organised by the Diaspora, would also honour 100 outstanding Nigerians in the UK at a gala dinner due to take place at Waltham Forest Town Hall in East London.

Among those listed for the Nigerian Centenary awards are: Sir Samuel Manuwa, Professor John Edozien, Dr Moses Majekodunmi, Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, Professor Oladipo Akinkugbe, Professor Latunde Odeku, Professor­ Nelson Oyesiku and Dr. Funmi Olopade.

Others on the list include Professor Oyin Olurin, Professor Orishejolomi­ Thomas, Professor Bello Osagie, Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti, Professor Ade Elebute, Dr Akinola Maja, Professor Femi Williams, Professor Ambrose Alli, Dr Dalhatu Tafida, Professor Ishaya Audu, Professor Oladele Ajose and Professor Tola Adebonojo among others.­

Also to be awarded are Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, Chief Odimegwu Ojukwu, Nwankwo Kanu, Alhaji Aliko Mohammed Dangote, Chief Mike Adenuga, Honourable Justice Maryam Aloma Mukhtar, GCON, Sir Abubakar Sadiq III, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, amongst others.