Buhari confers national merit award on Adesina, Onobrakpeya 

• Osinbajo, Lai Mohammed laud recipients

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo,  has conferred the 2017 Nigerian National Merit Award (NNMA) on a notable Nigerian scholar, Professor Adesoji Adesina and a celebrated artist, Mr. Bruce  Onobrakpeya.

The event held at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.

Osinbajo stood in for President Muhammadu Buhari, who was away on a two-day official visit to Kano State.He praised the research and intellectual qualities of the recipients, and assured that the federal government would continue to support research innovation in the country.

He said posterity would not forgive government functionaries if they fail to provide support for research activities, and that every NNMA winner is unique. He described the recipients as “milestones of Nigeria’s checkered history.”

The vice president said the recipients bear awesome responsibilities and commended them for the intellectual feat they have attained and challenged them to further deploy their experiences to advance the cause of the society, recalling the words of Bernard Baruch that “man can’t retire his experience but must use it.”

Osinbajo observed that the works of Adesina, in engineering and technology, span over three decades in various fields including mining, defence, manufacturing, among others, with over 400 publications and competitive research grants.

The vice president also said Adesina has trained quite a number of students, including 42 Ph.D holders, who are now professors, executives in petro-chemical industry and captains of engineering designs in various parts of the world.

On his part, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, specifically congratulated Onobrakpeya on his award. The minister said  the award to the octogenarian artist is a great boost for the Creative Industry.

In a statement issued in Abuja, yesterday,  the minister said the recognition and honour accorded Onobrakpeya by the Federal Government will go a long way to inspire young artists in particular and the Creative Industry in general. He said Onobrakpeya’s award has put him in the same league as other great creative minds such as Prof. Wole Soyinka, the late Prof. Chinua Achebe, Igwe Laz Ekwueme and the late Ladi Kwali, all past winners of the most-coveted award for distinguished academicians and intellectuals.

“There is no doubt that Onobrakpeya, over the years, has been a towering figure and a great inspiration to young artists, but, this award marks the highest point in his career as an artist. Onobrakpeya remains a great ambassador of Nigeria, having exhibited his works in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Sweden, just to mention a few.”

and with his works adorning great museums and art galleries all over

the world,’’ Alhaji Mohammed said. “To date, Prof. Adesina is credited with nearly 450 refereed publications, patents and books. He has supervised more than 100 graduate students to completion, including 42 PhD alumni with a truly global hue. Among these former students are university professors in highly-ranked institutions, executives of the petrol-chemical processing industries, government dignitaries and captains of engineering design and consulting firms located throughout China, South-east Asia, Middle East, Europe, USA, Canada and Australia. He has won over $15 million in competitive research grants from government and industry sponsors,” he said.

The vice president who said the works of Onobrakpeya in arts and humanities have spanned six decades, described the celebrated artist as a painter, initiator of art, author and philantropist.

According to him, Onobrakpeya had received over 30 awards and appointments in recognition of his excellent and intellectual contributions to humanity as well as lifetime awards.

He further described Onobrakpeya as a social commentator, whose works of art date back to 1957, the period he described as the early development of arts in the country. He further described him as an advocate of social causes who focuses on social developments.

Furthermore, Osinbajo said Onobrakoeya’s art works included painting on divine prayer for help. According to him, his works also address political instability, sociological problems while his contemporary works border on the murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa and broken pipes.

Responding on behalf of the recipients, Adesina who said they were thankful for being recognised at the highest level of government award, described the episode as memorable. He also expressed appreciation for all the efforts made by the Governing Board of the Nigerian National Merit Award towards the success of the award.

Born in April 1952, Adesina who obtained first class honours in Chemical Engineering in June, 1980 at the University of Lagos, later obtained PhD in University of Waterloo in Canada in 1986. 

He left the University of Port Harcourt as a lecturer in 1989 for the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and became a professor in 2004. He initiated and developed an internationally renowned group in reactor engineering and technology.

Onobrakpeya, on his part, was born in August 1932 and obtained Diploma in F.A. of London University and post graduate Art Teachers’ Certificate in Zaria. 

He has participated in over 68 exhibitions in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America with his works found in the most prestigious museums and galleries such as the Vatican Museum in Rome, Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC., the Suomi in Finland and Victory Museum in Baghdad. 

His works are used to decorate notable places in Nigeria such as the office of Nigeria’s president in the Presidential Villa, Abuja and Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos

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Author: Uche Atuma