The Penkelemeesi Award For Incompetence By Ayo Turton

By Ayo Turton

I waited till this morning to pen this article because I wanted to give Mr. President a benefit of the doubt. I thought that by the time I will wake up this morning, heads would have started rolling, starting with the head of the office that coordinated the recently concluded National Honours Award, Mr. Ayim Pius Anyim.


That governance has become an aberration in Nigeria is no longer news, that the level of incompetence in Nigeria is a fit and proper item for the book of heroic failures is not in doubt, but we have just recorded a scary, new and improved abysmally low feat.

If our government was competent, we will not be discussing trillions of Naira in oil subsidy because we will be refining our own oil, I mean, we would not be exporting crude oil only to buy refined oil at exorbitant prices. If we were competent, we would have a functional railway system in a country of 150 million people and other means of transportation that would make road transportation more convenient and our roads last longer, if we were competent we will not be living in darkness in a country that flares about 28.6 million cubic meters of gas daily, in a country with a huge deposit of proven coal reserves, (it is noteworthy that coal is the biggest source of electricity generation in the USA, while fossil fuel otherwise known as petroleum is the biggest source of energy generally speaking, followed by coal. We have both in abundance) in a country located where the sun never ceases shining, in the hot tropical region of Africa, in a new world of solar technology, in a country bounded by a huge body of waters. Name it, we have it all.

If we were competent our leaders would not have to travel out to foreign countries for every medical treatment including stomach upset and headaches despite several billions of dollars we make in oil sales, if we were competent we would not be sending our kids to schools in Ghana spending billions of naira while our own schools are in a state of decrepitude , if we were competent, Lagos-Ibadan-Benin expressway the busiest highway in Africa that connects the biggest city that doubles as the commercial hub of the country with the other parts would not become a death trap under our watch, if we were competent, the second Niger Bridge that would connect a huge part and economically vibrant section of the country with the other parts would have been completed, if we were competent the road that leads to the number one gateway in the country, Murtala Mohammed Airport at Ikeja Lagos would not contain such huge craters, some big enough to swallow a D10 caterpillar, while we make pretences to promoting tourism, if we were competent that same airport will not remain in a state of disrepair without a single improvement since constructed 33 years ago, if we were competent, armed robbers will not reign supreme in the land, sometimes holding a whole street hostage for hours without any presence of security officers.

If we were competent we would not eat the hide and skin that we produce in abundance as “ponmo” or “show boy” or “azuanu” and then import processed leather materials from Italy. If were competent, individual citizens would not have to dig bore holes as the standard way to supply water into their houses, if we were competent we will not be blessed with such a huge body of fertile land and still be hungry, if we were competent our judiciary the last bastion of the common man against injustice will not be in such a pathetic state where justice has become cash and carry service. Yes we are already notorious for ineptitude, everywhere you look in Nigeria incompetence stares you in the face.

But just when you thought you have seen it all about gross inefficiencies at the different levels of governance in Nigeria; at the time we are still battling the unconscionable attempt to make us pay for government inefficiencies in the oil industry, then came this bombshell, we ran out of medals at the National Honours Awards ceremony, oh my gosh! what a peculiar mess! Yoruba people call it penkelemeesi. May the soul of Adegoke Adelabu, the man who that word was attributed to rest in peace.

It is enough embarrassment that the name of the present Inspector General of Police and the rest of the Security Chiefs are included in the national award, at a time their competence has been challenged by the National Assembly by summoning them to a meeting over the state of insecurity in the country, people under whose watch some ragtag religious fundamentalists have made life unbearable for us and we are yet to find a solution. It is enough disappointment that a woman who was impeached for incompetence as a State House of Assembly Speaker and all kinds of strange characters that we have nothing worthwhile to attribute to them in national development were included in the award. When you look at the names of the Governors given awards and the name of Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State who is reputed to be the best performing Governor in Nigeria as of today is missing, when credible Nigerians like Prof. Chinua Achebe rejects the award; the credibility of the award is already in tatters.

But the real national embarrassment is that Federal Government ran out of medals to give to the awardees, they did not have enough! Some will have to wait and get their own medals later. I guess they gave out more awards than the amount of medals they could afford. Are you kidding me? This reveals the abysmally low standard by which we are governed. Now that we know that there is nobody in the Office of Secretary to the Federal Government that can count up to 350, we need to sack all of them and replace them, let us replace the Secretary with Eni-Ibukun my 4 year-old son, I swear, that guy can count up to 400. This is a monumental embarrassment to every one who is known as a Nigerian.

Now I am really, really scared because I read it somewhere in the newspapers that Nigeria is toying with the idea of building Nuclear Power Plants in the country, I say hell no! We could not maintain common government buildings, airports, railways, schools, roads, water dams, even keep proper accounts of how much we export daily in crude oil and we are talking about building Nuclear Power Plants? When countries like USA and Japan are considering closing down theirs because of the danger they may constitute? It is scarier now that we know that our Secretary to the Federal Government cannot even count 1, 2, 3 …up to 350, we yell a resounding hell no! Not in my lifetime! Not until our President is ready to commit mass murder on the citizenry, they must make sure to site one in Otuoke, one in VP Namadi Sambo’s village and another one in Senate President David Mark’s town, just not in my backyard! Nuclear plants ko, Atomic flowers ni.

Ayo Turton is a US based Lawyer.

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Brlliant work

Thanks AY! What a country! What a country! What is a Nigerian award worth?

Well Said My Brother

My brother, i really couldn't agree more with you. I guess u don't know that Govt has removed the subsidy on medals importation, so the approved contract was not enough to import the number of medals needed for everybody. A supplementary appropriation is presently in the national assembly awaiting the senate's approval. Hopefully, next year, the remaining medals will be given to the outstanding recipients. Now, in a serious mood, just how could this have happened? Is it that Govt didn't know how many citizens it is honoring? And these are the set of people we have trusted with the affairs of this great nation - People who can't even count upto 350!!!!!

Well said

Well articulated! I love this piece and it gives me fresh hope that there are progressive minded Nigerians like me who are desperate for a #ChangedNigeria. The question now is how do we go about #ChangedNigeria? My simple answer is we need to change ourselves; change of orientation. We must change our orientation and then change our community. Furthermore, the importance of our electoral votes can't be over stated. We must get it right come 2016 by voting the rogues out of office. Brethren, please join me as we educate Nigerian youths on the importance of their vote. Join us on

God bless you, God bless The Seun Akinsanya Project (TSAP), and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

achebe is not the first and shall not be the last

In 1657, Oliver Cromwell, already Head of State and head of Government, was offered the crown by Parliament as part of a revised constitutional settlement; he had been "instrumental" in abolishing the monarchy. Cromwell agonised for six weeks over the offer. In a speech on 13 April 1657 he gave his opinion that the office of monarch, once abolished, should stay so: “I would not seek to set up that which Providence hath destroyed and laid in the dust, and I would not build Jericho again”.[5] DukedomSir Winston Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, FRS, PC (Can), statesman and Prime Minister, was offered a Dukedom of London but declined in order to remain in the House of Commons and to allow his son Randolph a political career; Randolph died only three years after his father, so the dukedom would have had little time to affect his career as he had already been out of the Commons for 10 years)

Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl

Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, KG, PC, FRS, statesman and Prime Minister (in 1880; had previously accepted the Earldom of Beaconsfield)[6] Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne, KG, PC, FRS, statesman (1857) Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, KG, GCVO, PC statesman and Prime Minister in 1886[7] and 1892[citation needed] and possibly in 1901[8] - citing the prohibitive cost of the lifestyle that dukes were expected to maintain[citation needed]. According to Scribner's Magazine in 1900, "It is true that the Marquis of Salisbury might have been a Duke if he had not regarded his marquisate as a prouder title than a new dukedom could furnish."


Sir, good work! Meanwhile PDP's praise-singers have the temerity to tell us how wrong it was for certain notable, and of course noble, Nigerians to have declined their awards.

What is there to celebrate?


It is embarrassing seeing the IGP being decorated when "It has been revealed that out of the 330,000 police staff strength, over 100,000 are attached to individuals, to be carrying handbags for their wives." . Able bodied policemen that their primary duties is supposed to be protection of lives & properties of citizens, carrying bags & mounting road blocks with logs of woods, drums & sometimes deliberately dig pot holes so that vehicles cannot drive fast for them to collect their bribes of #20 or #50 naira. Citizens living in fear everyday and not until you come back home later in the day do your family know you are still alive. What a nation. Honourable Oluwaseyi Ogunyinka. U.S.A.

who next achebe in biafra and what next boko haram in sokoto

Black poet Benjamin Zephaniah said he rejected the offer of an OBE last month because he believes it stands for colonial brutality and slavery. He said the honour's title, Order of the British Empire, gives an impression of white supremacy saying he had been "fighting against the legacy of empire" all his life. John Lennon returned his MBE four years after receiving it Late Beatles legend John Lennon was perhaps the highest profile figure to reject an honour. He returned his MBE four years after accepting it in 1965. In a note accompanying the gong, he wrote: "Your Majesty, I am returning this in protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts. With love. John Lennon of Bag."

I saw Jonathan in one

I saw Jonathan in one newspaper passing out medals to recipients. Ayo, do you happen to know what the medals are made of: gold, silver, or bronze? Are the medals laced with diamonds and the most expensive gem stones in the whole wide world? My honest guess is that the highly-paced contractor who imported the medals from Switzerland (or whatever) taught other recipients would reject the award just like Professor Chinua Achebe did. He ordered less to maximize his profit. That's what happens when there is no accountability. Gradually, Nigeria is going down: one chip at a time.

"Nuclear plants ko, atomic

"Nuclear plants ko, atomic flowers ni." :)

Very good work, brother. Very good.