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National merit award compromised, says board chairman

The Chairman of the Governing Board of Nigerian National Merit Award and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Professor Francis Idachaba, has stated that the assessment process for nominating recipients of the Nigerian National Order of Merit has been seriously compromised.

He also announced the forfeiture of his sitting allowance as chairman of the board, saying,”I have informed the NNMA board that with immediate effect, I will not accept or take any sitting allowance during my tenure as chairman of the Governing Board.”

Speaking on Friday in Abuja during the inauguration of the new board of the NNMA by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, Idachaba said there had been undue pressure on him to bring in more personnel into the assessor team of the NNMA, even when their disciplines and integrity were questionable.

Part of the objectives for constituting the NNMA award by the Federal Government is to accord proper and due recognition to Nigerians for outstanding intellectual and academic attainments, particularly in the field of Science, Engineering/Technology,Medicine,Humanities as well as Arts and Culture.

The criteria for nominating the awardees annually are guided by selections from a wide range of contemporary works which are innovative, creative and essentially Nigerian in content and are of national and international distinction.

Idachaba said, “I have inherited a surprising, indeed bewildering, employment frenzy in the final days of the 6th NNMA board, an employment frenzy that has little or nothing to do with the mission and objectives of NNMA.

“More worrying is the fact that the 6th NNMA board appears, unfortunately, to have been compromised in this employment frenzy. Equally worrying is the near certainty that the bloated personnel will compromise the cherished integrity of the NNMA assessment process, create serious problems of discipline and focus and erode public confidence in the integrity of the NNMA.”

He however promised to chart a new course for the NNMA by reviewing the processes of the conferment of the NNOM on Nigerians who have attained intellectual and academic excellence.

According to him, the board will rigorously execute the processes for the identification and selection of candidates to be considered for the 2014 NNOM.

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