Baraje and the Title of CON
Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) is the new rank added to the numerous titles of Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, the erstwhile Acting National Chairman of the PDP. He has now joined the league of eminent Nigerians with national honours. Alhaji Baraje, a child of destiny, is one of the few Nigerians that is again considered for this merit award alongside one hundred and forty-eight others. With this award, Kawu Baraje an unassuming Nigerian has again made history. Definitely, lot of things must have been considered before this humble Nigerian is considered for this exalted rank. Giving him a job to do, you will see that commitment, passion, selflessness and fear of God in the discharge of such assignment. The leadership position he held as the Acting National Chairman of the ruling party in Nigeria, the PDP, his civil service career in Kwara State from teaching to the pinnacle of his career where he rose to the position of permanent Secretary before he retired in 2006 are some of the issues of note for considering him for this award. Today, September 17, Abubakar Kawu Baraje would step forward to receive the national award from President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR.
Alhaji A.K. Baraje's foray into national politics began in 2005 as the secretary to the Kwara State delegation at the national political reform conference, while in 2007, he represented the state at the presidential campaign of the PDP serving as assistant director in charge of administration.
He has continued to render valuable services to the people of the state. Baraje's love for teaching which was his first profession has motivated him to build a state of the art educational institution in the state where he hopes to return to the classes, soon to contribute to the empowerment of youths from their initial ages.
Going by all these outstanding qualities, he definitely deserves the National Award of CON conferred on him. For Baraje, the National award is fitting on his head.
Down the memory lane, the national honours in Nigeria were instituted by the National Honours Act. No. 5 of 1964, during the first Republic to honour Nigerians from all walks of life who have rendered special and outstanding services in their various callings to the benefit and progress of the nation. The Act empowers the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to make provisions for the award of honours, decorations and dignities.
The National awards in descending order of importance are the GCFR, GCON, CFR, CON, OFR, OON, MFR, and MON while it is open to only citizens of Nigeria, but honorary award can be conferred on noncitizens.
The first two Nigerians to be awarded the prestigious GCFR were Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and General Olusegun Obasanjo. The investiture was performed on 23rd September, 1981 by then President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
Kawu Baraje was the sole candidate of the North Central zone for the position of National Secretary of the PDP at the 2008 National Convention and he eventually emerged unopposed.
Today, Baraje was the longest serving National Secretary of the PDP a position he held with outstanding qualities and high dedication to duty.
As faith will have it, he rose to the position of Acting Chairman of the party in July 2011, after the elected chairman, Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed was named a minister. A.K. Baraje's position as Acting Chairman was short but highly historic. He really proved himself not only as a worthy ambassador of Kwara State but the entire nation before the outside world as he is no doubt a reference point at any point in time. Whenever the history of Nigeria's leading and dominant political party, the PDP is written, the name of Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje will get a good mention. He is a humble, hardworking and God fearing man. For the history, his sterling performance as the administrator-in-chief of the party encouraged the new party leader, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to endorse his being catapulted into the acting national chairmanship seat of the party. His leadership superintended the most transparent, free, fair and credible primary elections in five states of the federation; Kogi, Adamawa, Cross River, Bayelsa and Sokoto. Even when the Supreme court landmark judgment sacked all the five governors who were fighting a legal battle over the interpretation of their tenure in office in one fell swoop and the attendant apprehension in PDP, the party still bounced back to win the gubernatorial poll in all the five states of Sokoto, Cross River, Kogi, Adamawa and Bayelsa.
He has continued to render valuable services to the people of the state.
Again today, history is being made in Nigeria as President Goodluck Jonathan will be conducting the 2012 National Honours Award on 149 deserving Nigerians.
The National award honours though have been variously criticized of having been abused, bastardised or monetized but for Alhaji Baraje, again, it is a worthy award.
However, to avoid criticism in future, nominees of National Awards should be properly screened so that only those who fall into the award winning categories are selected. Among criteria that should be considered is that such awardee or awardees must have distinguished themselves in their services to the nation. They should be seen to have been instrumental for motivating the wider citizenry to strive for greater heights and must have contributed more actively towards promoting the nations value and have distinguished themselves in various fields of endeavour.
Baraje, you are really a worthy ambassador of Kwara State and you really deserve this National Award as a unique endorsement of your leadership qualities as a teacher, an administrator and a politician. May the Almighty Allah grant you more successes and blessings. Warafahana hu Makanan Alyyan. (Amen).
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