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Many people are shedding crocodile tears for Gani, says Classmate

By Dayo Johnson, Akure
Chief Sehinde  Arogbofa  is a patron of the  Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA, and  Chief Gani’s  classmate at Victory College Ikare, Ondo State.

As one of the class mates of late  chief Gani Fawehinim in Victory College Ikare what is  your assessment of him.?
First  I was very disturbed about his death. It is not that I  didn’t know that he was going to die but because  few  weeks ago when I wanted to speak with him, l was told that it  wouldn’t be possible by members of his family.

We attended  Victory College together and we left school in 1958. We were  the first class to sit for WAEC. He was very brilliant and  highly exposed and  had interest in National Affairs. He  constantly read Daily Newspapers and you would always see him discussing International issues because he was very current  with what was going on around him. He has an appellation we used to call him “Nation”.

How would  describe this your classmate ?

Gani was very lively and had a very  pleasant character and I’m not sure he had any dull moment. When we were together, he was always focused.

He was a  humanist to the core. He was always feeling for the common  man, the downtrodden and the  oppressed. Gani  in 1974 wrote a book on Right to Free Education. In that book ,Gani referred to some of his classmates including me.

According to Gani, he  saw some cobblers shining shoes and he felt that what they were taking would not be sufficient for them to educate  their children. He saw farmers toiling the land and he felt  that their income would not be able to sustain the education of their children. He saw the houses built by parents for  their children to live, he was so moved that such parents would  not be able to combine  the education as well as providing good home for the children.

He saw pupils on the school  assembly ground and some of them were looking so  dejected, he saw misery written on their faces and he felt  that something has to be done because these were going to be the future leaders and  they needed to be liberated. In  one of the chapters he tried to proffer solution to what  would happen later and he was talking of education at all levels which should be free. It should not just be free,  the products of free education should be gainfully employed.

How did   you receive the death of this your classmate?

I must confess to you that it really  disturbed me. I visited him two or three times since we all knew about his illness. I discovered a changed Gani. He was  a different man  and even though we will all die some day,  when I  saw him  last, I knew it was a matter of time.

I was in  my garden last week Saturday and at about 10 am I heard of  the news via the Radio and Television. I was shattered  because l have lost a very good  friend and a classmate. He was a very good friend and we  were always communicating.

My  sadness was greatly for Nigeria because we never listened  to  him, Nigeria refused to listen to a patriot, and Nigeria  refused to listen to somebody who was talking about the  welfare of the nation. He was somebody who was always telling us  that we need goods roads so that we don’t die of accident;  we need education for everybody so that we don’t become poor.

Because Gani was from our own part of the country, he  knew what farmers were going through in the farms  had no money to train their children, he knew beggars on  the street that they were human beings and they need to be  better.

Where did you meet Gani ? Was it in School or earlier?

We met in School but we were not  classmates  in my first year. He was my senior but in my  second year, we become classmates because I had double  promotion and not because he failed or something happened to  him. But at the end of my second year, we became classmates  until we left secondary school. Other classmates of ours  include the Owa-Ale of Ikare, the Olukare of Ikare, the late  General Alfred Aduloju and many others.

I was attracted to him while we were in school  because you would  always see Gani reading newspapers. That  particular day, he was holding a newspaper and I think it was  Daily Times. You would  always see him reading the newspaper  from page to page . It was like a big menu to him  and after reading the papers, you would  then see an elated  Gani speaking bravely about the nation’s affairs,  international affairs and things about like that.

Was he a rascal when you were in School.?

Yes he was a rascal but he was a focused  person even unto death. You could see him then as somebody  who was going be stubborn, somebody who was going to be very rascally, you could see him as somebody also was going to fight for the right of the people.

I was good in Latin and they used to call me  ‘Aro Sagita’ and because of  his interest in national affairs, we used to call him ‘Ganus international’ He would never compromise. None of us compromised. We all called  a  spade a spade. He abhorred  evil and would not have anything to  do with evil. The traits that he loved the down trodden was evidence while we were in school. Gani was always  discussing freedom and human rights activists all over the world.

If there was any problem in the school,  you would  see Gani talking a position. He was  always trying to call the authority to order and any teacher  who was trying to be funny then, Gani wouldn’t  mind opposing him. He had always been that.

He was very lively, always on the side of the people, always bold and courageous. That was what Gani showed at the early stage of his life. Then you could see the traits of  a future leader in him.

Many people are now paying lip service by eulogizing Gani after his death

They are hypocrites. They should keep their  mouths  shut. That is one of our problems in Nigeria; we do  not celebrate our leaders while alive but we know those that  really feel bad about the death of Gani and those that are  shedding crocodile tears .

They killed him gradually by sending him to jail several times. They should keep quiet. See what happened in Ondo State when Dr Olusegun  Agagu was the governor.

He never wanted to celebrate Gani but when Dr Olusegun Mimiko came, he restored that honour that  Gani was deprived of  by Agagu at the Adekunle Ajasin  University Akungba Akoko. There is need to honour our people  when they are alive. It is a pity.

What about the clamuor that a national  monument should be named after him ?

They should do what Gani stood for: good roads,  free health facilities, free education, free and credible elections. What type of monument should they name  after him? Gani would be happy if  his ideas and the dream he stood and fought for to make Nigeria a better place to live, not for this generation  but children yet unborn is achieved.


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