Mrs Ganiyat Fawehinmi, widow of Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), spoke briefly yesterday to Sunday Vanguard, throwing light on his last moment. Excerpts:
By AbdulahWahab ABbdulah
ON his last moment: Ganiâ€™s death, though did not come as a shock to us, because of his ailment. However, it is painful to us, especially when the sickness came. Gani, as you all know has suffered too much in his life. He was always saying that he did not want himself and other Nigerians to suffer. He alwaysÂ had the belief that Nigerians deserve everything that is good and that is what he fought for and that was the battle he fought till he breathed the last.
He said on his hospital bed that he had no regret in doing what he did, and if he comes back to this world and there is still corruption or injustice he would continue to fight.Â He also said that he will continue to fight in his grave if he has no opportunity to come back. He urged all Nigerians not to relent in getting the country on the right lane.
I was with him all through. I was always with him both in Nigeria and while he travelled out of the country. Before he died, though he did not behave as if he would died, his case was critical, a few days back. We were even contemplating of taking him back for treatment but he said no, he was not going anywhere. He said he preferred to be receiving his treatment here in Nigeria. By the time he wanted to die, there was no sign, he did not wright in pain, only that his condition had been serious.
On how the family coped during his illness?
Well, it has been an uneasy thing, it has been up and down, but we thank God. He has been good to us. His God has been helpful wherever we go, especially when we travelled to England and Jerusalem.
There was a time my daughter insisted that he should come to US, he refused. He had three appointments, but he cancelled them. There was a time we had even secured his visa, but suddenly he cancelled it. He said whatever they were able to do in Nigeria, he was satisfied with it.Â He said he was not going anywhere again. Till he died, there was no way to convince him to travel out for further treatment.
On what Gani meant to her
Gani is everything to me and the family. He has been a loving and caring husband, he was my confidant and I was his confidant. We talked about Nigeriaâ€™s problems and I have always been with him throughout his struggle since 1969 till 1996. All the detention camps he went, I was there with him, to ensure that he was comfortable. I also believe in whatever he believed.
Other things he said before his last breath
That was all he said. It is the same thing he had been saying in the newspapers about this country. He believed that Nigeria should be taken care of. That the country and its people have to be cared for. The less privileged and the masses need to be provided for.
To give them education, portable water, shelter and infrastructure.Â These have been his wishes. It is a pity that all these were not achieved in his life time. Life is vanity, he worked all his life and had enjoyed nothing, nothing. He was always fighting other peoples cause, using his time and money doing this. I thought it was time for him to sit down, relax and enjoy the fruits of his labour, only for death to strike.Â (She breaks down in tears).
IN the legal system, he has done his best. It is for us to continue. And I want everyone in government to realise one thing, when youâ€™re in government, you are there to serve the people because the constitution says that sovereignty belongs to the people.
I donâ€™t begrudge anybody from making money when you are in government but I begrudge them for stealing money which is made for the people.
If the best medicare was in this country, Chief Fawehinmi will be with us today but even the president is being flown out of the country for medicare. What is the excuse? We have the best brains among doctors, they are well paid outside but a lot of them cannot even earn their daily bread in this country. The government has a lot to do and on the educational system, what Sam Egwu is doing is a very dangerous development.
Iâ€™LL remember him for his generosity, for his strong and firm opinions Â Â Â about humanity, for his greatness, for his intelligence, for his care, for his love, for his opinion about law, for everything you can ever think of. As a legacy, the federal government should recognise him, if possible, build an institute for him, he deserves that and much more.
MEND, NDPVF mourn Gani
MOVEMENT for Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND) Â Â Â and the Niger-Delta People Volunteer Force (NDPVF), headed by Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari yesterday mourned the death of human rights activist and lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, saying the Niger-Delta and the entire nation has lost
MEND in a statement by its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo said, â€œWith the passage of Chief Gani Fahenwemi, the Niger Delta Region and indeed the suffering, suppressed, depressed and oppressed people of every ethnic nation within the Nigerian occupied territory has lost a consistent, fearless, just, irreplaceable defender, advocate of the sovereign will of the people through a Sovereign National Conferenceâ€¦â€.
â€œAlthough ChiefÂ Gani Fahinwemi didÂ not die young he could have lived happier and longer, the passion for the liberation of the masses where poverty will be banished for ever, drove and pushed him beyond limits and breaking points, The saddens over The deliberate,Â demonicÂ and satanic refusal of the Nigerian StateÂ through the military juntas and People Democratic Party to see a liberated mass, sickened , infected and affected this peopleâ€™s colossus, sage and legend.Â He was denied of his greatest joy, which resulted to his death. The Nigerian State is wickedâ€â€, it stated.
Editors mourn celebrate Gani
THE Nigerian Guild of Editors Â Â Â received with shock the passage of Chief Oyesola Gani Fawehinmi to immortality at 71. Humanity has lost a great defender of freedom and justice.
Gani as he was fondly called was the authentic friend of the press. He was the refuge to which media practitioners ran to in times of trouble. Gani spent his time, knowledge, materialÂ resources to defend the freedom of the press and speech among other fundamental human rights. Gani was the lifelong mentor of media activists and was always at the forefront expanding the frontiers of freedom.
Gani not only spent his resources on the quest for a more liberal, humane society, he wrote books on press and media laws and donated volumes to media practitioners for effect. Chief Fawehinmi, the incorruptible, was the authentic promoter of good governance, accountability and transparency. He was a genuine lover of freedom and due process, using the instrument of law as opposed to violence and self help.
Humanity would miss Gani and the Nigerian media will always remember him as the authentic hero. May his soul rest in perfect peace.
*Gbenga Adefaye, President, Nigerian Guild of Editors
Edo govt expresses shock
THE Edo state government, two-time Governor of the old Bendel state, Dr Samuel Ogbemudia and the first civilian governor of Edo state, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, have expressed shock over the death of the legal icon and civil rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
In a statement signed by Governor Adams Oshiomhole, he described the death as a great loss to the country and humanity, adding that the big shoes he left would be difficult to fill. Others who also mourned his death included the former Special Adviser to the President, Professor Julius Ihonbvere, who described Gani as a dogged fighter and â€œ a brother that would be missedâ€.
IBB, David Mark, Bankole, others mourn him
GANIâ€™s criticism put some of us in authority on our toes all the time because anytime we wanted to take a decision; we always take cognizance of what comments the late critic would say because he used to tear our decisions beat by beat.
Late Gani would not just come to criticize because he did like your face; he made all his criticism on the point of law and we need more of his like to move Nigeria forward. He made his criticism with facts because whenever he criticized you, he backed it up with facts and figures and not because he did not like your face â€”General Ibrahim Babangida.
*Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi is one Nigerian who lived his entire life for the betterment of all Nigerians. As an irrepressible enemy of oppression. He was a human right of crusader of inimitable courage, a philanthropist, and a patriot with great commitment to nation building. Ganiâ€™s criticism awakened consciousness of average Nigerians in the day-to day activities of government, his constructive opinions always helped in shaping our polity â€”Senate President David Mark.
*He was among the principal actors that dominated Nigeriaâ€™s legal landscape for decades. The Nigerian masses have lost a friend, an ally and a messiah as Gani fought many valiant fights for them while he lived â€”Speaker Dimeji Bankole.
*By this sad development, one of the greatest crusaders in the history of Nigeria for human rights and social justice has been lost.Â His demise is even more painful because it has come at a time some of his ideals are gradually being realisedÂ â€”Prof. Rufai Alkali, National Publicity Secretary, PDP
*The death of Gani Fawehinmi is definitely one of the biggest losses to Nigeria in recent times! A known thorn in the flesh of dictatorship, he fought relentless for the enthronement of democracy in our country, mostly at the expense of his personal liberty â€”Lai Mohammed, National Publicity Secretary of AC.
*Indeed, Gani was a great Nigerian, a larger than life figure, an accomplished lawyer, etc. His consistency, tenacity and independent-mindedness are hallmarks of a true patriot and leader. He will be missed not only by his family but also by Nigerians and humanity who cherish his activism. As a rights activist, he never let anyone in doubt on where he stood on any issue. His consistency is unrivalled and will be difficult to replicate among Nigerian politicians, human right activists or legal practitionersâ€” Gov. Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers.
*Nigeria has lost a consistent advocate of the rule of law and due process, which are the most critical ingredients required to build a virile nation. Gani’s name was, no doubt, a by-word for justice hinged on genuine conviction. Though Nigerians will mourn the passing away of this giant, we have a vital lesson to learn from his life: that a man mustÂ always believe in something and consistently too – Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State.
His contributions to the development of our jurisprudence predicated upon a deep sense of revulsion at injustice and oppression remain unprecedented. In the seventy-one years that it pleases almighty Allah to bequeath him with on earth, Gani towered above several of his contemporaries and became an appropriate role model for generations of younger Nigerians –Governor Segun Mimiko of Ondo.
*Gani Fawehinmi has always been an inspiration to the progressive movement since I first metÂ him in the 80â€™s; serving as the rallying point of the peoplesâ€™struggles at various times and making unimaginable sacrifices on each occasion of his rare intervention – Chief Anthony Enahoro.
*For his beliefs which he had the courage to pursue, Gani suffered greatly, enduring a lot of hardships especially during the military era, which he fought with uncommon courage and dogged zeal. Today, Nigeria is a democracy, thanks for the enormous contribution of Gani and others like him, even in that, Gani the tireless gadfly continued to campaign for a better democratic practice challenging any aspect that showed disrespect for the peopleâ€™s will and right – Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta.
*Soon after I won the case he instituted against my appointment at the Federal High Court in Abuja, I planned to meet him to commend his courage and fighting spirit, but his death has surely denied me the great opportunity of telling him face to face my admiration of his person. In fact, I had contacted one of the lawyers in his chambers just last week when I was in Lagos to schedule the meeting but had to put that on hold to avoid insinuations over his decision to appeal the High Court judgement – EFCC boss, Mrs. Farida Waziri.
*His struggles were complex and multi-dimensional. This was not surprising given the fact that the events that impelled him to become a social crusader and those which he helped shape are equally varied and complex. We do not require a prophet to know that long after Gani must have departed from this world his works and times would continually inspire scholarly and revolutionary writings – Lagos lawyer, Bamidele Aturu.
*I watched the graceful but inevitable battle of Chief Gani Fawehinmi with death and came up with the summation that he displayed his archetypal uncommon gut by winning the battle in his own way just like he was wont to doing in an epic lifetime.Â The most successful social critic idealist has just departedÂ a world he loved so much even at the risk of being misunderstood –Governor Alao-Akala of Oyo State.
His life was a great lesson to other critics to imbibe the virtues of honesty of purpose strengthened with an iron will to succeed in oneâ€™s life crusades. In Fawehinmi humanity was greatly enriched. He demonstrated for all to see that success in life is measured not by what one takes from life but by what one gives to it. Chief Fawehinmi gave his entire being to the cause of the common man. His type will definitely be difficult to get – Governor Oyinlola of Osun State.
*Chief Gani Fawehinmi, (SAN), will be remembered for his contributions to the growth and development of Rule of law even in the face of intimidation and threat to his well being. The deceased, a legal luminary has left an indelible footprint in the sand of time, considering his struggle and contributionsÂ in the defence of the less privilege in the societyâ€, Gov. Bukola Saraki of Kwara State. Nigeria has indeed lost a gem, GaniÂ was aÂ great fighter of democracy, his death has created a vacuum that will be difficult to fill – Alhaji Tanko Yakasai