Renowned Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Adichie said she did not show up to receive a national award from President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday because she did not accept it.
Presenting the award to 450 Nigerians and foreigners, President Buhari justified the honors by saying that the laureates distinguished themselves in service to the nation and humanity.
Buhari said: “We have among the recipients today, Emb. Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Ms. Amina J. Mohammed and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who make our country proud on an international level.”
“Our dear sisters are a source of inspiration for our young women who, with hard work and dedication, can achieve great things.”
Discussing her absence at the ceremony, a member of Chimamanda’s communications team, Omawumi Ogbe, said in a statement on Thursday that the author declined the honor.
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The statement said: “Following the recent presentation of national awards by the president, there were conflicting reports about one of the announced recipients, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Some social media users say the award-winning author declined the award, while others say she accepted.
“The author did not accept the award and therefore did not attend the award ceremony. However, she did not want to create undue publicity, so her non-acceptance was conveyed privately.”
Chimamanda Adichie was recently awarded with the legendary W.E.B. Du Bois Medal. This is not the first time an award winner has turned down a national honor from a Nigerian president.
The late Prof. Chinua Achebe also declined a national honorary award in 2004 and 2011.
Achebe said he turned down the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) award because he was dissatisfied with the Olusegun Obasanjo government’s conduct of the country’s affairs.
In 2011, Achebe rejected the same offer from the Goodluck Jonathan government, saying the reasons for rejecting the offer when it was first made in 2004 had not been addressed.
The late chief Gani Fawehinmi, a leading human rights activist and lawyer, also refused the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) bestowed on him by the Umaru Yar’Adua government in 2008.