Who and who were awarded: The awardees include two aides of President Muhammadu Buhari, two businessmen, and two governors.
They are Sarki Abba, Senior Special Assistant (Household and Domestic Affairs) to the President, and the State Chief of Protocol, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure.
The businessmen are Aliko Dangote, President of Dangote Group; and Abdulsamad Rabi’u, President, BUA Group.
The state governors honoured are Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa and Mohammed Bello Matawalle of Zamfara.
All were awarded the “Order of Merit of Niger” and “Great Master of National Awards”.
Nigeria-Niger bromance?: Niger President Mohammed Bazoum noted that his country cherished Nigeria as one of its closest neighbours and friends.
Bazoum said the “Brother Nigerians” made great strides in increasing understanding between the two nations and are agents of social and economic development.
Progressive Eye Witness: Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) Chairman and Kebbi Governor Abubakar Bagudu attended the event.
Why Niger gave the awards: Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu said the awards were in recognition of the recipients’ roles in the promotion of better relations between the countries.
POV: However, there is no Southerner on the list of prominent citizens recognised.
Meanwhile, *clears throat*: The Nigerian government on Wednesday, August 03, confirmed that President Buhari approved the purchase and donation of vehicles, worth N1.4 billion, to the award-giving Niger Republic.
Nigeria defends giving N1.4 billion worth of vehicles to Niger: The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, told journalists after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that the donation was to help Niger address its security concerns.
She said such donations by Nigeria to its neighbours were common.
Ahmed said it is the president’s prerogative to take such decisions after a careful assessment of the situation.
Zainab Ahmed says Buhari has the final say: “Nigerians have the right to ask questions, but also the president has the responsibility to make an assessment of what is in the best interest of the country and I cannot question the decision myself.
“I have said that this is not the first time and that Nigeria as a country has provided an intervention to our neighbours. It is in the best interest of Nigeria to do so.”
It can be recalled that the Federal Government last year approved the construction of a rail line to Niger Republic.