Three professors were given national honours.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday said the survival and collective future of Nigeria depended on national and global development efforts in science, technology, economics, arts and other fields.
Mr. Jonathan said this at the investiture of professors Sunday Ajayi, Francis Abiola and Hilary Inyang Inyang with the 2013 Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) Award at State House in Abuja.
Represented by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, the president said the award was one of the most prestigious and the highest conferred on Nigerians at home and in the diaspora.
He said the award was conferred for creative, intellectual, and academic contributions of national and global significance.
“The three distinguished recipients, for which we gather in celebration today, have not only made contributions as a matter of their calling, but have also individually excelled in their fields of endeavour.
“I therefore warmly congratulate Prof. Seth Sunday Ajayi, Prof. Francis Abiola Irele and Prof. Hilary Inyang Inyang for their outstanding achievements and commitment to excellence,” he said.
The President, who congratulated the recipients of the 2013 award, said only 70 Nigerians have been conferred with the award since it was initiated 34 years ago.
He said the awardees had each made contributions and individually excelled in their various fields of endeavour.
Mr. Jonathan said they had also been adjudged as worthy of the honour by the Governing Board of the Nigerian National Merit Award (NNMA).
He urged the awardees to make greater commitment and do more work to consolidate their services to the political, economic, and strategic development of the nation.
The President promised to look into requests made by the Chairman of NNMA’s Governing Board, Sylvester Adegoke.
Mr. Adegoke had called for the establishment of an Endowment and Research Fund, a Presidential Dinner on the fund, and the need to come up with a White Paper.
He had said the White Paper would activate the Nigerian National Research Fund. He also expressed appreciation to the President for the support given to the body.
In his remarks, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Pius Anyim, said it was not true that the NNOM award was the exclusive reserve of academia.
He said Mr. Jonathan approved an increase to the statutory cash prize given to awardees to encourage creativity, research and innovation.
Responding on behalf of the awardees, Mr. Ajayi expressed hope for the future of Nigeria.
“For one to be recognised in his own country, without lobbying for it and without even knowing anybody in the board, is worthy of celebration and it clearly underscores the integrity of the Jonathan administration,’’ he said.