President Goodluck Jonathan has expressed surprise at the claim by Professor Chinua Achebe that the issues which caused him to reject the Nigeria government’s offer of a National Honor in 2004 remain unresolved.

Roundly rejecting the offer yesterday, the literary icon said in a terse statement, that the issues had not been addressed, let alone resolved. 

A government statement this evening celebrated what it described as “widely acclaimed electoral reforms undertaken by the Jonathan Administration,” but did nothing to deflect attention from the problems that have continued to multiply nationwide.

“Politically, Nigeria cannot be said to be where it was in 2004 as the Jonathan Administration has embarked on extensive electoral reforms to institute a regime of electoral integrity that all Nigerians can be proud of, believing that governance will be greatly enhanced in the country if the will of the people prevails at elections,” the government said in a statement signed by Reuben Adviser, Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity. 

In his 2004 assessment of Nigeria, when President Olusegun Obasanjo first offered Professor the Commander of the Federal Republic award, Achebe said he had “watched events in Nigeria with alarm and dismay,” evidently referring to the political brigandage and atrocious governance of the time which he illustrated with the situation in Anambra, his home state. 

Jonathan’s statement today, on the eve of the lavish party at which he will give so-called honors to hundreds of Nigerians, many of them dubious and dishonorable, suggests that the problems have been solved, even though he calls his government a “transformation government” and the transformation agenda has yet to be announced. 

The statement, weaving a fine line between criticising the popular elderly patriot and garnering support for tomorrow’s event, said that in Jonathan’s estimation, Achebe remains “a national icon, a Nigerian of high attainments, indeed one of the greatest living Africans of our time.”

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