The Nigerian National Merit Award (NNMA) has lamented a 31 per cent cut in its 2019 budget, insisting that such will only double its serially increasing debt burden from one year to another.
According to the NNMA, prior to the slash, the allocation from the federal government alone was grossly inadequate to meet its statutory demands, adding that with the shortfall, the agency will hardly survive 2019 without encountering financial hardship.
Chairman of the governing board, Prof Shekarau Yakubu Aku who stated this in Abuja at the opening ceremony of the 11th forum of the laureates of the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) themed, “The Imperative of Unity in Diversity”.
He said the slash will further create untold hardship to the agency in fulfilling its mandate, and called on the federal government to give legal backing on the proposed NNMA policy group.
The group, he maintained, has the ability to assist government at all levels in policy implementation and programmes.
Aku said: “It is unfortunate also that the cut down of NNMA’s capital budget for year 2019 by 31 per cent will further create untold hardship on achieving the core mandate of the NNMA.
“The allocation from the federal government alone is grossly inadequate to meet the needs of the NNMA, so the agency hardly survives in a year without facing pronounced financial hardship that frequently threatens its core mandate, which creates a serially correlated debt burden from one year to the next,” he said.
Meanwhile, after a rigorous screening exercise by the board, only one winner emerged as the 2018 recipient of the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM).
The awardee in all the categories namely humanities, science, medicine, engineering and technology, is Prof. Olufemi Obafemi, a creative writer, critic, dramatist as well as a theatre director.
Aku said due to the strictness employed, many were not configured and so did not apply, noting that nominations had not dropped but that those who submitted themselves were below what was expected.
“The process of selection is very rigorous. The nominees must support with the evidence of their work that has been researched and this is quite an expensive exercise,” he added.