By AbdulwahabÂ Â Abdulah
A week after the renownÂ human rights activist andÂ legal practitioner, Chief Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi passed on, there are agitations over the big vacuum left behind by the man described as a man of many parts.
In this interview, his first wife, Ganiyat Fawehinmi answers questionsÂ on some of these issues, especially the smooth relationship existing among his big family, his Will and the struggle. Excerpts.
Since Chief Gani Fawehinmi passed on, Nigerians from different walks of life have been paying glowing tributes on him, how do you see this?
I am very happy and joyful that at least, aÂ large number of Nigerians appreciate what the man has done for them when he was alive with the calibre of people that have been coming to pay condolence in his memory.Â Even his detractors have come to pay their condolences. It shows that he was a wonderful man.
How will the familyÂ continue with those things he was doing while he was alive?
His first son, Muhammed is the defacto head of the family.Â I pray that God almighty will grant him (Muhammed) the wisdom, strength and energy to carry on with the struggle, because he is determined and we were in the struggle together .
It was when I had him in 1969 that the struggle really started. So, he was born into the struggle. I know he will continue with the struggle. From what he has been saying, it shows that Mohammed is a replica of his father.Â I just pray that the good Lord will lift him up from the wheel chair so that he will have enough energy to run around. It shows that it is enormous and difficult for anyone to step into Ganiâ€™s shoe.
SinceÂ you were in the struggle with the man while he was alive, are you preparing to step into his shoes as well ?
Well, I pray to God to give me the strength to continue because I have no choice. I pray also that other Nigerians will join me, especially the Nigerian Bar Association, the civil society groups and organised labourÂ as a sort of encouragement to ensure the actualisation of his dreams for Nigeria.
Are there things he planned to do but could not do due to the ailment and then his death?
There are plans by the whole family that assuming he is still alive by 75 years, all the children will come to Nigeria and celebrate his birthday butÂ this was not yet made public. But, as God wouldÂ have it, we love him, butÂ He loves him most.
What was Ganiâ€™s relationship with his children when he was alive ?
Gani was a traditional and family man to the core. He loved all his children and family and all of them are doing well in all theirÂ chosen careers. He was a loving husband, a confidantÂ and a comradeÂ because we have been in the struggle together.
I was not only married to him, I wasÂ also marriedÂ to the struggle. We have been in the struggle together since 1969. He had good rapport with other family members including his extended family here and in Ondo state.
How many are his children?
I donâ€™t know. We donâ€™tÂ count children for the parents. But he hasÂ good children.
As Gani is no more, what is your relationship with the other relations of Gani, the second wife, the children and other family members?
We areÂ together.Â We liveÂ peacefully and happily .
What about his traditional roles in his home town in Ondo?
We will do the little we are capable of doing. But I am sure he would have made provisions for some of those things himself, especially those he was able to do before his death.
Chief Fawehinmi did say he has written his willÂ at the timeÂ he was arrested by the military inÂ anticipationÂ that he could be killed. Is the Will still subsisting ?
Chief was somebody that was very unique. He was not stationary. He always moving up in whatever he was doing. I know he has a Will and he upgrades his Will from time to time.Â Last December, he said he adjusted his Will again. So,Â I donâ€™t think it is the last one that is still existing. I know he prepared it to the best of my knowledge.
DidÂ he discussÂ anything in the Will with you?
That is why it is a Will. When the time comes, we will know what is there.Â He has not been buried.
How would his Law chambersÂ be run and maintained ?
There are structures on ground. The chambers was moving very well even when he was sick. He has put up strong structures for the running of the chambers.
How can you describe the relationship ofÂ those who have passed through his chambersÂ and the family ?
Were you not at the High court, Lagos during the court session held for him ? You would have listened to the testimonies. There was a lighter mood when they were mimicking chief, how he talked, what he didÂ when he was alive.
Although, we areÂ sad, on that day, everybody laughed. They thanked him, saying that whatever they have achieved today is by the grace of God and the assistance from chief. This is because when they came to the chambers , he did not ask them whether â€˜you are a son of a judge or any important dignitaryâ€ He was not a tribalist. Once you are qualified andÂ you show that you are ready and prepared to work, you are in the family.
It will be recalled also that after he came back to Nigeria following a successful surgery ,he promised to do three or four things, like writeÂ his Will, his autobiography, attend the holy pilgrimage and also sponsor some people for Hajj rites. To what extent was he able to achieve these ?
He was able to do something about his Will, according to what he told me.Â He was unable to perform Hajj but he has been sponsoring people for Hajj. On the autobiography,Â he was not able to finish it but people are working on that.