By Olasunkanmi Akoni, AbdulWahab Abdulah and Dapo Akinrefon
LAGOS â€” GOVERNOR Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, Tuesday, revealed how the state government was able to convince the family of the late legal Icon and social crusader, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, to play a role in the burial arrangement despite the instruction of the deceased to his family not to allow any government lavish taxpayersâ€™ money on his burial.
Fashola, in his address at the open air farewell ceremony/day of tributes held in honour of Fawehinmi at the Nigeria Police College, Ikeja, said when he received the acceptance letter from the family of Chief Fawehinmi to go ahead in organising the farewell tributes ceremony, he was glad for the opportunity to pay the last respects to a great Nigerian.
After observing a minuteâ€™s silence, Fashola said: â€œGani was a patriot and a defender.
In a country that was built on self-centeredness, Gani has inspired some of his colleagues, Gani also stood to pitch tent with the masses. Ganiâ€™s life struggle represents a charter of developmental objectives for our government.â€
He further explained that it was the efforts of the late rights activist that made it possible for â€œgood governance and public promises as the vehicle for the delivery of qualitative education, reliable and affordable health care, eradication of poverty and the enthronement of the rule of law as the prerequisite of fighting injustice.â€
He said, â€œindeed, no amount of words and encomiums will be commensurate in appreciation to the laudable and longstanding contributions of Chief Gani Fawehinmi to the evolution of our great country. What honour can we give this great man, than to ensure that the import of his message did not get lost on us as a people.
While some may have disagreed with him as a messenger, or indeed the mode of delivery of the message, it was difficult to disagree with his message which was consistent and the message remains our challenge today. It remains our minimum development goals and a light into our path in our quest for good governance.â€
Continuing, Fashola enjoined Nigerians not to let â€œGaniâ€™s struggles end here, it must be the rallying point for all men of goodwill, young and old who didnâ€™t listen to him while he was alive, we must listen to him now from his death bed.”
Also corroborating his boss, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele earlier revealed that Fawehinmi had left an instruction with his family that no government should lavish taxpayersâ€™ money on him when he dies and politicise his burial.
According to Bamidele: â€œThe family said they would not want the government to play politics with Ganiâ€™s body and waste taxpayersâ€™ money on him for his burial.â€
In his tribute, immediate past governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu said: â€œWhen I remarked on Saturday, 5 September 2009, upon learning of the sad demise of our late father, brother, lion of the human rights and democracy movement and the icon of the dispossessed and defender of the rights of the ordinary Nigerian, that our country had lost its conscience, it was not an accidental statement.
It was precisely because there was no adequate epithet that I felt could accurately capture the true essence and the entire gamut of Ganiâ€™s dedication to our country and its people.â€
Eminent personalties that graced the lying-in-state yesterday included former governors of Ekiti, Ogun, Lagos and Anambra States, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Mr Ayo Fayose, Aremo Segun Osoba, Alhaji Lateef Jakande and Dr Chris Ngige, among others.