By Victor Ahiuma-Young
THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called on the National Assembly which is currently carrying out a review of the 1999 Constitution to make Section 18, which provides for free education up to secondary level, justiciable.
President of NLC, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, in Lagos, at the lying-in-state of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, held in Labour House, Yaba, Lagos, argued that education for all was one of Ganiâ€™s cherished beliefs and noted that in a practical demonstration of this belief, he instituted a scholarship scheme over the decades to enable indigent students complete their education.
â€œFawehinmi believed that if our society were organised and run in the interest of its people, no Nigerian child or adult would go to bed on an hungry stomach or deprived of education on account of his or her socio-economic background.
â€œIn a practical demonstration of his belief, he instituted a scholarship scheme over the decades to enable indigent students complete their education. The least that can be done to honour Fawehinmi is for the Federal Government to declare education not only free but also compulsory for all Nigerian children at least to the level of post-primary education.
â€œThe NLC also calls on the National Assembly which is currently carrying out the review of the 1999 Constitution to make Section 18, which provides for free education up to secondary level, justiciable. One of Fawehinmiâ€™s major contributions to our country was his democratization of law practice by making court judgments, especially that of the Supreme Court which was the exclusive preserve of a few top lawyers, available to all, even to the layman.â€
â€œHe also used law which was regarded as a conservative profession, as an instrument of justice and social transformation. Fawehinmi used his legal prowess to defeat the political elites who hitherto were the only ones who could form political parties.
His legal onslaught could not be withstood by the elites and the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). They were forced to open the registration doors to political parties of every shade and ideology. Another major theatre of his contributions is in the struggle against the de-regulation of the downstream of the oil sector.
He knew that endless increases in the prices of petroleum products especially kerosene that was used by the poor, was ruinous. He sided with the Labour Unions.
We recall that in January 2002 when the NLC was forced once again into an anti-fuel price increase battle, Fawehinmi used his huge resources and prodigious intellect to produce and publish a book within a few weeks which detailed the history of fuel price increases in the country as well as the myopia of those who thought, and still think that the best economic policies are those that rob the people of their basic dignity and impoverishes them in favour of the rich and indolent elites and their pay masters in Washington and Europe.â€