The integrity of the Nigerian National Merit Award (NNMA) has been compromised, the Federal Government has revealed. It also stated that the assessment process for nominating recipients of the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM), has also been comprised.
Chairman of the Governing Board of NNMA, Prof. Francis Idachaba made the disclosure in Abuja when the new board of the NNMA was inaugurated in Abuja by Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim.
He explained that there has been needless pressure on him to employ more personnel into the assessor team of the NNMA, some of whose discipline and integrity are questionable.
The Federal Government instituted the NNMA award as a means of according 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’s words: “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”.
However, he pledged to chart a new course for the NNMA by taking a second look at the processes for the conferment of the NNOM on deserving Nigerians, who have attained intellectual and academic excellence.
Idachaba added that the board will rigorously execute the processes for the identification and selection of candidates to be considered for the 2014 edition of NNOM.
In what could be viewed as a patriotic move, Idachaba also announced the forfeiture of his sitting allowance throughout his tenure 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”.
Beside the chairman, other appointees to serve as board members are Paul Onaji, Prof. Laz Ekwueme, Andrew Nok, G.T Olutula, John Enaohwo, Garba Goje and Abiodu Oyemade (representing the SGF office).
Meanwhile, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius announced to the board that the federal government has upped the cash price for recipients to N10million from the initial N5million.