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Edo sets up Gani Foundation for Good Governance

By SIMON EBEGBULEM
EDO State government and civil society  groups, yesterday, paid tributes to  the late legal icon and human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, just as Governor Adams Oshiomhole announced the setting up of Gani Fawehinmi Foundation for Democracy, Justice and Good Governance with a take-off grant of N25 million.

Market women, politicians, students and lawyers thronged the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City to pay their last respect to the late activist amidst tears.

Oshiomhole, who recalled how the late activist rendered free legal services during his time as president of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), said the grant was the money raised during his award as the Silverbird Man of the Year, 2008, and that the state government would organize a fund raising ceremony to increase the fund and a Board of Trustees set up, adding that with the support of Gani’s family, the fund would be utilized into realizing some of Gani’s dreams.

“Gani was not a local champion, he was a national player, whether in freedom or in captivity he was localized”, he said, adding that apart from the foundation, the state government would name a monument after Gani in the state in due course.

He recounted many experiences he had with the deceased, and his desire for true democracy in the country, stressing that the only way to enthrone true democracy in Nigeria was through “one man one vote which is sacrosanct and the Federal Government must implement intoto  the Justice Uwais’ report on electoral reform”.

Speaking also at the event, Mr  Femi Falana said  “Gani  never believed that he will be 71.

He engaged in many wars, he engaged in many suicidal risks, he was such a humble man who never called our wives by their names.”

Oshiomhole said that “those who are looking for peace in the Niger Delta should implement, in its entirety, the report of the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta” headed by the president of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, Ledum Mitee, who in his own tribute to the late Gani described him as a bridge between the government and the governed, adding that “even though he was not in government, he was also in power because every person who misruled always had Gani to contend with.”

The former deputy  governor of  Nasarawa State, Labaran Maku,  restated the call for an apology to the family of Fawehinmi because of the way he was treated by the Nigerian state while he was alive, adding: “he was a Nigerian of the first order.”

The deputy  governor of Kogi State, Philip Salau, described him as the “voice of the voiceless and defender of the poor”.

Former governor of Edo State, Chief  John Oyegun, described his death as a big loss to the nation and urged government to render good governance to the people which he fought for.

President of the Nigerian Bar Association (SAN), who was represented by Ikhiazo Akhariale, named Gani as the Nigerian of the era between 1959 and
2009.

Former  president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Festus Iyayi, said Gani was the greatest because of the way he added value to the lives of Nigerians.


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