PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, on Thursday, conferred the 2012 Nigerian National Order of Merit Award (NNMA) for intellectual, academic and creative achievements on two professors, with a promise that government would put in place a special fund to support researchers in the country.
The recipients of the awards were Professor Samuel Ohaegbulam for his outstanding performance in the field of Medicine and Professor Emmanuel Yoloye.
The award comes with a cash prize of N10 million to each of the recipients.
Speaking at the investiture in State House, Abuja, President Jonathan explained that the idea for the special fund was influenced by his administration’s conviction of the importance of research to national development.
According to him, “through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, actions have already commenced on the proposed NNMA Policy Group and the establishment of National Research and Development Fund. The government will continue to promote excellence in our strife for rapid development and nationhood.”
He further noted that the integrity and high standard of the award had been proved by the fact that only 67 awardees had emerged till date, which, he said, was a pointer to the merit-driven evaluation procedures underlying the selection of the winners of the award.
He added: “There is no doubt that our nation needs the knowledge, expertise and contributions of today’s recipients to boost its overall development, particularly in the successful implementation of the government’s Transformation Agenda.
“It is for this reason that I approved an increase in the statutory cash prize attached to the award from N5 million to N10 mill ion per recipient with effect from 2010.
“As envisaged, this prize will inspire young generation of researchers to follow their footsteps.”
While congratulating the recipients, President Jonathan congratulated the recipients, noted that they have made the nation proud and also hoped that they would sustain their interests in research and excellence and remain sources of inspiration to all.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the NMMA Governing Board, Prof. Sylvester Adegoke, said the two recipients had through hard work and outstanding research as well as service to humanity etched their names in gold not only in Nigeria but also in the perception and minds of the global community.
Highlighting the process of selecting the awardees, he disclosed that out of the more than 40 nominees evaluated only the two recipients were found worthy to be conferred with the award.
According to him, “These two eminent Nigerians scholars successfully passed through the rigorous merit-driven strained process normally apply by our four specialized committees of assessors and several selected external assessors and were found by the governing board to be extremely worthy.
“They are sources of pride not only to our country Nigeria, but also to humanity. Despite our failings in other spheres of life, our nation is blessed to have such distinguished and dedicated intellectuals who have spent their life time serving the needs of others and in the process they have raised the prestige of Nigeria high among nations of the world.”
LEON USIGBE, ABUJA/NIGERIAN TRIBUNE