When the list of those who will be conferred with national honour this year came out and the names of driver and that of a cook to Mr. President were included, many people became apprehensive of what could have necessitated the need for such decision
The controversy this piece of information generated is still very strong amongst concerned Nigerians. Many who do not understand, thought the president personalized the award by giving his driver and his cook. But the fact of the matter is that the two individuals who will be decorated with the national honour stand out in their various endeavours especially in the areas of integrity and honesty. Another criterion used in arriving at the decision is hard work and sacrifice.
These two individuals are Imeh Usuah Jaja, a taxi driver, and Onuh Isaac Michael, the head of presidential stewards.
Jaja is a 68-year-old father of six. Sometime in November 2007, a passenger he picked up from Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport left a bag containing $120, 000 in his taxi. Jaja, without giving a care in the world to know what was inside, returned it to the owner unsoiled. Jaja was said to have informed the owner that it is against his belief to take people’s property. This Akwa Ibom state native, also returned a camera worth N45,000,000 and a phone to an African Independent Television (AIT) staff member who left them in his taxi in the same year another passenger left a bag of money in it. These multiple acts of honesty reinforce the truth of Jaja’s nobility and integrity.
In the same stead, Onuh Isaac Micheal is another Nigerian deserving of the national honour, having served 30 years as a steward for different Nigerian heads of state and presidents.At present, he is the head of presidential stewards at Aso villa. One would expect someone who is very close to power to have some of its trappings, but the 59-year-old still lives in a rented apartment at Karu in Nasarawa state. the Kogi state indigene maintains a strict code of not asking for favours because it is against the ethics of his job. Micheal Onuh has seen it all. From the first executive president of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari to Dr Goodluck Jonathan, he has been in the inner recesses of power attending to the domestic needs of the first family of the most populous and powerful black nation in the world. Onuh, the longest-serving staff member at the presidential villa, will be bestowed with the honour of Member of the Order of the Niger.