Most of the recipients of the 2012 National Honours were stranded in Abuja on Sunday as the Federal Government failed to provide them accommodation as it was the practice in the past.
The honours are expected to be conferred on the recipients on Monday (today) at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. A total of 149 recipients will be conferred with national honours with Chairman of Globacom, Mike Adenuga, receiving the highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger.
Most recipients, especially Abuja non-residents, who arrived in Abuja on Sunday evening discovered that the government made no provision for their accommodation and flight tickets.
During former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, all awardees were each provided with accommodation or N50,000 in lieu of it.
They also received the same amount of money for flight tickets.
A senior government official, who disclosed this to one of our correspondents in Abuja, said the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation was usually saddled with the task of arranging accommodation and flight tickets for the honourees.
The official said, “You see, it is wrong for you to invite people from all nooks and crannies of the country to Abuja without making any preparation for their accommodation, transport and even feeding.
“That is against the African tradition of entertaining guests. Many of these awardees have never been to Abuja before and therefore, they don’t know how to find their ways.
“The usual thing is to reserve accommodation for these distinguished Nigerians. But I don’t know why things are like this in this country.”
Some of the awardees, as well as members of the organising committee, who spoke to our correspondents at the organising committee’s secretariat in Agura Hotel, Abuja, confirmed that they were not provided with accommodation and flight tickets.
A member of committee, who pleaded anonymity, said, “There was no provision for accommodation for the recipients; flight tickets were also not provided.
“They are to take care of those things. There is no big deal about that though it (taking care of honorees) had been the practice.”
One of the awardees complained to one of our correspondents about the non-provision of accommodation and transportation arrangements for the recipients.
The awardee, who was in company with his wife searching for hotel accommodation, said it was sad that the organisers of the award left them to fend for themselves.
Asked if he had been able to secure accommodation, the awardee replied, “no.”
He said, “I am trying to secure my own accommodation, since they did not provide any for us. The situation is quite inconveniencing. I don’t live in Abuja and here I am, hours after I arrived, I am yet to settle down. I have not had a bath and I have not changed my clothes.
“The arrangement should have been better; it should not be just (about) collecting the award.”
Asked if his children would be around to witness the event, he said, “The invitation said only two guests; I can’t bring all of them. So I brought my wife and a friend along.”