Yesterday, in Niger Republic, Governor of Borno state, Babagana Zulum was decorated with national honor as “de Grand Officier dans l’Ordre’ Du Niger” by the President of the francophone west African country, Mohammed Bazoum.
The Nigerien National honor, according to a statement issued by Isa Gusau, Governor Zulum’s spokesman, is the equivalent of Nigeria’s Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger in the ranking of the national honors.
Mr Zulum got the award as the Nigerien government celebrated their August 3 Independence Day otherwise known in French as ‘Fête de l’Arbre’.
According to National Honors Act No. 5 of 1964, under the Order of the Niger, the title of GCFR and GCON “are customarily respectively bestowed on former occupants of the office of President of Nigeria and Vice President of Nigeria including former military heads of state of Nigeria and Chiefs of General Staff.
The GCON is also customarily bestowed on the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the President of the Nigerian Senate during their first year in office, while the CON is customarily bestowed on Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
And these honors, according to the Act No 5 of 1964 are bestowed to “honor Nigerians who have rendered service to the benefit of the nation”.
It is believed that the same conditions for national honors applies in the Nigerien laws that recognize and award meritorious public service.
President Mohammed Bazoum of the Republic of Niger on Tuesday decorated Borno Governor, Babagana Umara Zulum, with the country’s Second Order National Honour, “de Grand Officier dans L’Ordre”, which is the equivalent of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, GCON, in Nigeria’s ranking of national honours.
Bazoum said he was honoring Zulum after monitoring the Governor’s courage, sincere fight against Boko Haram, deep concern on the plight of Borno’s citizens taking refuge in parts of Niger Republic, which Zulum has visited a number of times, offering support and steadily evacuating and resettling the refugees in new houses built in Borno.
The decoration was performed in Zindar as part of events lined up by the Federal Government of Niger to celebrate the country’s Independence Day.
Zulum’s national award, “de Grand Officier dans L’Ordre”, is only second to “Grand Croix Des Ordre National Du Niger” which is the equivalent of GCFR, and only serving Presidents in Niger normally get the award in Niger Republic.
It was the first time a Nigerien President would honour a Nigerian Governor with the country’s second highest national award.
It is now on record that Governor Zulum is the first Nigerian governor ever awarded with such foremost national honor from Niger Republic. It is also important to acknowledge that no Nigerian governor has ever received a GCON honor or its foreign equivalent since the country’s independence.
Though Zulum’s ‘de Grand Officier dans L’Ordre National Du Niger’ is a GCON equivalent from outside the country, the Borno governor is the third Nigerian citizen after Aliko Dangote, and Mike Adenuga that now has GCON attached to their names even though they are not former vice presidents, or Chief of General Staff or Senate President, or Chief Justice of the Federation.
It was a huge celebration as Governor Zulum stormed Zindar accompanied by Senators Kashim Shettima, Mohammed Ali Ndume, Chief whip of the House of Representatives, Mohammed Tahir Monguno, Speaker Borno State House of Assembly, Abdulkarim Lawan, and the Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Engr Bukar Talba, said the honour would not make him relent in his devotion towards Borno people.
Mr Gusau who is Governor Zulum’s Special Adviser on Media, Communication and Strategy said “President Bazoum later invited Zulum to accompany him to commission 138km Zindar road project and the 22 megawatts power project also in Zindar”.