President Goodluck Jonathan has praised Professor Niyi Osundare for his brilliance, hard work and dedication to art and literature in Nigeria.
Jonathan said this at an award ceremony in honour of Osundare at the Council Chambers, State House Presidential Villa, Abuja where he conferred Osundare with the 2014 Nigerian National Order of Merit Award.
“The Nigerian National Order of Merit Award is the highest and most prestigious honour this nation bestows on its citizens at home and in the Diaspora for creativity as well as intellectual and academic contributions of national and international significance.
“It is encouraging to note that since its establishment, 35years ago, the integrity of this esteemed Award has been preserved through a rigorous and painstaking assessment exercise. In the areas of Science, Engineering/Technology, Medicine, Humanities and other fields of human endeavour, the award standard had never fallen below expectation.
With only one awardee this year, the total number of Nigerians who have been honoured, now stands at 71. This merit-driven evaluation procedure underlying the selection of the winners of the award must be maintained.
“I have no doubt that Professor Niyi Osundare, our awardee this year, meets our nation’s expectation, and like others that have received this prestigious award, will hold high the banner of creativity and intellectual development,” Jonathan said.
“There is no doubt also, that the knowledge, expertise and contributions of today’s recipient, will be of immense benefit to our overall development agenda, and in particular, the successful implementation of this administration’s transformation efforts.
“Professor Niyi Osundare, you are today admitted into this very admirable, respected and distinguished class of Nigerians as its 71st member of the body of the Nigerian National Order of Merit Laureates. Congratulations!”
“By your remarkable achievements, you have put our nation on a high global pedestal and made Nigeria proud. I will like to urge you to sustain your interest in writing and research at the present level of excellence, and impart directly and by inspiration, your rich repertoire to all and sundry, especially our upcoming generation.
“Our government will not only study the recommendations in the communiqué of the 7th Annual Forum of the Laureates, we will also continue to support your initiative, efforts and solutions to major problems in our country. The report of the committee on the activities of the Nigerian National Merit Award (NNMA) is also being studied by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and recommendations from there will be implemented.
“I had earlier in 2010 approved an increase in the statutory cash prize attached to the award from 5million naira to 10million naira per recipient, with the hope that this award will inspire young generations of researchers to follow the footsteps of awardees.
“I will like to assure you that the Federal Government supports the Endowment Fund of the NNMA and will take necessary steps to strenghten the NNMA. With respect to the NNMA Endowment Fund, Government will prioritize the stipulation of the NNMA Act that the NNMA is to “institute measures designed to promote intellectual and academic excellence among Nigerians for this purpose and shall liaise with academic, professional and research institutions in Nigeria”. Through the office of the SGF, action has already commenced on the proposed NNMA Policy Group and the establishment of the National Research and Development Fund,” Jonathan stated.