National Awards: Meet female cleaner who returned $12,200 found at Lagos airport




President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday conferred Nigerian national award, Federal Republic Medal II (FRM II) on Josephine Agu for her particular act of integrity in the face of a national economic depression at the International Conference Centre in Abuja.


Agu works as a cleaner at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Ikeja. She’s being rewarded for her honesty and integrity in returning $12,200 she found in a toilet at the airport.


Also, a security guard, Mallam Musa Usman, from Jigawa State; a cleaner and a bank security guard, Ogbanago Muhammed Ibrahim were awarded the Federal Republic Medal (FRM) II national honours.


President Buhari called them a shining example to the younger generation.


“Despite the present economic challenges, Nigeria still boasts of men and women of integrity; Ms. Josephine Agu, an airport cleaner returned $12,200 found in a toilet at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos as well as Ogbanago Muhammed Ibrahim, a bank security man who found and returned $10,000. Today, we celebrate their dignity and strong strength of character by conferring National Honours on them,” the President said.


In an interview, Josephine Agus said she had no regrets at all on what she did and vowed to do the same thing again if she ever sees another misplaced money.


“I will not say because of the situation I am in and that I am from a very poor family (I should take the money).


“My advice to Nigerians is that honesty pays better. When you see something that doesn’t belong to you, return it to the owner and even if you didn’t see the owner, there are authorities that you can report because that thing doesn’t belong to you. A good name is better than silver and gold.


“I have made frantic efforts to see my governor, I have even gone to his house to see how he can assist me since 2016 up till date, and he has refused to see me.


“I am very happy for this award that the federal government has given me but in all this, I really need assistance from the government. I need help. As you can see, this is my first pregnancy and all the responsibilities of my elder brother and his children are on me. I need the government to come to my aid.


“I am walking at the airport authority. I was given the job with my Diploma certificate but now I’m running a degree programme and I am in my third year,” she told Vanguard.


Imam Abdullahi Abubakar was also recognized for providing shelter for hundreds of Christians fleeing attacks from Muslim herdsmen who had launched coordinated attacks on Christian farmers in 10 villages in the Barkin Ladi area of Plateau State on June 23, 2018.


“We also have on the list, Imam Abdullahi Abubakar, a religious leader who hid over 262 Christians in his mosque from attacks in Yelwa Gindi Akwati village, in Plateau State. He is a good example of religious tolerance we preach amongst Nigerians. I am excited that he is being honoured today with Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR),” President Buhari said at the award event.


Abubakar narrated what happened and said that he told the unknown gunman that they will have to kill him first before they could slaughter their targets and that was how they all left the people.


”I am very happy that I was able to save the lives of many people and I feel very happy anytime I see them.


“Our heavenly created us in different ways, some are back, others tall and some are white. It is the way he created us and he knows all our needs. So it will be wrong to take any life God created.


“God did not create us for others to kill because in his creation, he created death as well so what I am saying is that, we do not need to kill one another, let’s be patient with each o…


The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Most Rev. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama has urged politicians to put Nigeria’s interest ahead of personal lust for power and greed for money in next year’s general elections.


Bishop Kaigama who spoke in a reception for the National Award conferred on him said “many of them (politicians) are dying for positions; we always pray for them to be sincere in their desires.”


“Those that you see crying and shouting all over, many of them don’t know how to separate their personal interest from their motive so they can begin to differentiate and know where the common man needs help and support.


“Unfortunately, their personal interests are often about power, money and how to take a big chunk from the national cake. That is not the way it should be, this gathering here emphasizes the beauty of collaboration. There is no need to blame each other, let everyone do something sincerely so Nigeria can be better,” he said.


On the award, he said the recipients were selected from different backgrounds of people who are inspired and contributed in bringing development in different ways. They are an inspiration.


“Let me say clearly that I don’t belong to the category that says, ‘Oh things are so bad, there is ASUU strike, kidnapping and killings everywhere.


“I have decided that, in the means of all three, let me be a positive factor, let me light the candle rather than blame the government, and let’s not be negative all the time. Be positive, be on the side of telling the government the truth.


“I am from the grass root and I know where it hurts. With the way the President treated me, it means I can also talk to him. I will use this honour he has given me not as a personal thing because what do I need the honour for, it is an honour for Nigeria that I serve, for those who are marginalised and others who are in various problems,” the Archbishop said.


President Mohammadu Buhari had on Tuesday conferred Nigerian National awards to well deserving citizens as well as foreigners who have a positive impact in the growth of Nigeria.


He said “The National Honours are not merely decorative. They remind us of an important part of our responsibility as citizens. We must always endeavour to do our best for our country. We will continue to root out all forms of banditry, criminality, terrorism and insurgency in the land. As I stated earlier in my Independence address to the nation, I will hand over a Nigeria that is free from insecurity to the next generation of leaders.”


In an interview with Mr Austin Aigbe, a Social and Political Affairs Commentator, he said the award to the 447 distinguished Nigerians are intended to appreciate them for each of their contributions to Nigeria’s development and as the saying goes, to whom much is given, much more is expected.


“The award, though political, will no doubt spur the awardees’ morale to do more. However, these awards have nothing to do with the promotion of good governance, if it were; it should be the people that should determine those who get the awards.


“If the people are saddled with that responsibility, many of the 447 awardees would not get it. That is why I said, it is political.


“There is no correlation between the award and democracy. And the award does not have any impact on the lives of Nigerians who live below the poverty threshold.


“These national awards should also go to those women and men, who suffer daily to feed their families, those military and paramilitary personnel, who stay awake so that we can sleep. Including other at risk workers, who don’t know a government official to nominate them,” he added.



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