Renowned novelist Chimamanda Adichie has said she did not show up to receive a national award from President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday because she did not accept it.
While conferring the award on 450 Nigerians and foreigners, President Buhari had justified the honours, saying the awardees had distinguished themselves in the service of the nation and humanity.
“We have among the recipients today, Amb. Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Ms. Amina J. Mohammed and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who are doing our country proud on the international scene,” Buhari said. “Our dear sisters are a source of inspiration to our young women that through the dint of hard work and dedication, they can achieve greatness.”
Speaking on her non-appearance at the ceremony, a member of Chimamanda’s communications team, Omawumi Ogbe, said in a statement on Thursday that the writer declined the honour.
The statement said: “Following the recent conferment of national awards by the President, there have been conflicting reports about one of the announced recipients, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Some social media users say the award-winning writer rejected the award, while others say she accepted it.
“The author did not accept the award and, as such, did not attend the ceremony. She, however, did not want to create undue publicity around it, so her non-acceptance was conveyed privately.”
Chimamanda was recently decorated with Harvard University’s iconic W.E.B. Du Bois Medal.
This is not the first time an honouree will turn down a national honour from a Nigerian president.
The late Prof. Chinua Achebe rejected a national honours award in 2004 and 2011.
Achebe said he rejected the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) award because he was dissatisfied with the handling of the country’s affairs by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. In 2011, Achebe rejected the same award from the Goodluck Jonathan administration, saying the reasons for rejecting the offer when it was first made in 2004 had not been addressed.
Also, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, foremost human rights activist and lawyer, also rejected the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) conferred on him in 2008 by the Umaru Yar’Adua administration.