Chinua Achebe Rejects National Award From Nigerian President Again

Once again, Professor Chinua Achebe, a renowned Nigerian literary icon, has rejected an offer of a National Honor by the Nigerian government. He did the same 7 years ago, saying it was his way of protesting the political and economic condition in Nigeria.

“The reasons for rejecting the offer when it was first made have not been addressed let alone solved. It is inappropriate to offer it again to me. I must therefore regretfully decline the offer again,” he said.

Prof. Achebe stated his reasons for rejecting the award in this letter, which he addressed to the then-president Olusegun Obasanjo:

“I write this letter with a very heavy heart. For some time now I have watched events in Nigeria with alarm and dismay. I have watched particularly the chaos in my own state of Anambra where a small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connections in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom. I am appalled by the brazenness of this clique and the silence, if not connivance, of the Presidency.

“Forty three years ago, at the first anniversary of Nigeria’s independence I was given the first Nigerian National Trophy for Literature. In 1979, I received two further honors – the Nigerian National Order of Merit and the Order of the Federal Republic – and in 1999 the first National Creativity Award.

“I accepted all these honors fully aware that Nigeria was not perfect; but I had a strong belief that we would outgrow our shortcomings under leaders committed to uniting our diverse peoples. Nigeria’s condition today under your watch is, however, too dangerous for silence. I must register my disappointment and protest by declining to accept the high honor awarded me in the 2004 Honors List.”

Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan has expressed regrets over the decision of Prof. Achebe. He also expressed his surprise by Achebe’s claim that the issues which caused him to reject the same award seven years ago, still remain unresolved.

His spokesperson, Dr. Reuben Abati said that against the background of the widely acclaimed electoral reforms undertaken by the Jonathan administration, the claim by Prof. Achebe clearly flies in the face of the reality of Nigeria’s current political situation.

“As reflected in the immense improvements recorded in the conduct of the last general elections which were applauded within and outside the country as the most credible elections in Nigeria in recent years, the Jonathan administration has made tremendous efforts to positively change the political architecture complained about by Prof. Achebe and other Nigerians,” Abati stated.

While President Jonathan acknowledges that there are still challenges in the country’s path to the attainment of its full potentials as a nation, Abati said he believes that this administration is moving the country in the right direction and therefore deserves the support, encouragement and cooperation of all citizens.

“The President continues to hold Prof. Achebe in very high esteem in spite of his regrettable decision which may have been borne out of misinformation as to the true state of affairs in Nigeria and hopes that he will find time to visit home soon and see the progress being made by the Jonathan administration for himself.

“Prof. Achebe remains in President Jonathan’s consideration, a national icon, a Nigerian of high attainments, indeed one of the greatest living Africans of our time,” Abati said.

Achebe is well known for his book “Things Fall Apart.” He is also on the Forbe’s list of 40 most powerful people in Africa.

  1. Ebulueme John Reply

    Kudos to Prof. Chinua Achebe for his steadfastness!

  2. briggs isah Reply

    Thumbs up, Prof!!! Reuben Abati, u should have kept quiet rather. U’re wrong to say Prof is being misinformed coz it’s so obvious u’re the misinformed

  3. arinze Reply

    i must appreciate his excellency for recognising the most respected literature wrighter of our time but is time to fight curruption and menace of boko haram in other to bring back the glory of our lovely country which wil help in drawing back our respected men and women of this country abroad,long live Nigeria, long live his excellency,long live Odumegwu ojukwu our biafran lord ,long live biaframs one we will have our freedom celebrated like south Africa.

    • Preeti Reply

      Sorry to join in late but I would start by linking to a very itesrneting report by Human Rights Watch I spent a good part of last week reading. It’s an easy read and very self explanatory. I believe everyone that is passionate about the Nigerian problem would get a kick out of it.Reiterating again with others, I fully agree that Corruption is the underlying problem in Nigeria. Sadly it is so ingrained in the society that in everyday life Nigerians have taken and accepted corruption as a way of life. It’s the canker worm that has established itself in every aspect of the Nigerian life. Truthfully, Nigerians cannot relate to what normalcy’ or a life without corruption is like. I agree fully with Nelson Abbey’s take, We were not born corrupt. We were cursed with it when we found our biggest blessing: Oil.’To tackle corruption I think it would be expedient to define again what corruption is’ from the Nigerian perspective. It’s a discussion that should involve all aspects of the Nigerian society. We need to truthfully and publicly point out how far this corruption disease has rooted itself in society. The EFCC is a good start, although it’s not the best solution it could get better if they are not infected by the Nigerian corruption disease. Sadly again, it’s a possibility that they’ll go down just another corruptible agency in Nigeria. I doubt they have the capcity to solve the problem.The same way NGOs are running after the HIV/AIDS bandwagon, why can’t we as Nigerians set up Non-governmental institutions that publicly hold the government, politicians and leaders accountable to the Nigerian people? I use the terms government, politicians and leaders loosely but I refer to and include everyone in a decision making positionsStill, take out corruption and then comes Accountability: who are Nigerians accountable to? How can we show effectively that we are accountable to our people? How do we prove that we are for the people and not for our pockets? Corruption and Accountability go hand in hand. We would have to rewire’ the thinking of Nigerians, and this I mean the everyday people and everyday life to get corruption out. Ouch, tough job right? Maybe if we boldly start these discussions and make them a part of the everyday Nigerian News wires it would reorient the thinking of Nigerians hmmmWe have long ways to go to remove this cause but if we don’t start tackling it from the roots it would continue to follow us.

  4. Odogbo mohammed Reply

    That is what is good for Nigeria thank u sir. I which other people do like that.

    • Sandra Onyema Reply

      Dr. Abati, you are respected, but your comments that renowed Prof Achebe is misinformed fall of your known self. It is only in Nigeria and within the ruling party that a former prison inmate is still a member of board of trustees

  5. KOLA Reply


  6. uzoma Reply

    i was wondering how one will pick an award with nothing to show your family.Why is the medal not ready for the very embarrasing.

  7. vman ede daniel Reply

    Prof sir,this act of rejecting the national award is an award on its own more honourable than the one that would have been given you by president jonathan. keep being yourself sir.

  8. Queen-Lattifa Reply

    Aw can u offer an award when d whole country is suffering. For Prof. Chinua Achebe to have refused such an award is is honourable. This singular act alone has brought back hope wich was lost a long tym ago. God bles n reward u accordinly Prof.

  9. Bitrus oshi Reply

    This is a patriot.

  10. Chomsky Reply

    Thank you baba Achebe for rejecting the useless honur of the bastards called politicians in Nigeria. All they do is looting. propaganda is their password of govenance. if most nigerian were to be like you, this country would heve revived from vampires like Jonathan and company.

  11. Lizette Sixsmith Reply

    this is so good. i wish to meet you one day.

    • Gumelar Reply

      Unfortunately, it more likely than not will be swept under the rug, unelss you and others do something about it. I just hope that Uzoma recovers from this horrific ordeal.@ archiwiz: Given that Emeka Asiwe is yet to be heard from after 10 days in SSS detention, I highly doubt that any of those officers will be castrated or shot as you suggest. The best i could hope for is their dismissal from the Navy. Maybe if people put some pressure on the government and head sof the armed forces, something good will come out of this.@ nigeria politricks: So good to see you again! Honestly, not having a second degree doesn’t make a difference, you know. What is more important is that she use her position to put forth concrete programs that will be to the benefit of women. However, one thing I have learned is that you can have the best intentions, but if the foundation is not available, all your best plans will fall to side in Nigeria. The question becomes, will Bugundu be able to have a positive impact on the majority of Nigeria’s women, assuming that she is try to do so? If she is trying to change the lot of women, and hopes to have a positive impact, this is precisely the issue she can use to spotlight the violence against Nigerians, in this case a woman.So, it comes back to the underlying framework – is it possible for a Womens Affairs Minister that wants to do well to actually do well in Nigeria? And, will this minister do well for uzoma? Only God can answer that question.Anyway, good to see you put a post up. Its been different not having you around blogville.@ Tara Douglas: So, you actually know Uzoma? Well, this must be even harder for you to watch.Please do a post about the issue. I always encourage fellow bloggers to talk about the issues that they read about, whatever they may be. Sometimes, even a wordless post that simply states a victim’s name can make a world of difference. Those of us that use this medium, blogging, are lucky we can talk about issues. Nice to see you here, please, don’t be a stranger.@ Femi B: You must to don kolo! lol! So she can send Navy abi na SSS to come find me, eh?On a serious note, fine. Send her the Punch newspaper article, as well, although it is embedded in the post. Hopefully, she will be able to get those Naval officers fired at the very least. I think if she reads half the comments that have been left on the CNN IReport page, she would be mortified. Well, or not, I don’t know the lady and shouldn’t dare suggest what she thinks.

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