Nigerian literary icon Chinua Achebe said he rejected an award due to be given to him by President Goodluck Jonathan this week because the political problems in Africa’s most populous nation had not been tackled since he snubbed the prize seven years ago.
Achebe, author of ‘Things Fall Apart’, one of the most widely read pieces of modern African literature, turned down the national title of ‘Commander of the Federal Republic’ in 2004 when Olusegun Obasanjo was head of state, Reuters reports.
He wrote to President Obasanjo at the time, saying he was “appalled” by the “cliques” who had turned Nigeria into “a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom”.
“The reasons for rejecting the offer when it was first made have not been addressed let alone solved. It is inappropriate to offer it again to me. I must therefore regretfully decline the offer again,” Achebe said in a statement received on Wednesday.
The rejection by such a high-profile Nigerian, who lives in the United States, is an embarrassment for Jonathan who has been promoting his ‘transformation’ plan for Nigeria after winning elections in April which international observers and many Nigerians said were the fairest since the end of military rule in 1999.
“President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan regrets Prof. Chinua Achebe’s decision,” a statement from the presidency said.
“Coming as it does against the background of the widely acclaimed electoral reforms undertaken by the Jonathan administration, the claim by Prof. Achebe clearly flies in the face of the reality of Nigeria’s current political situation.”