….Gani Fawehinmi 80th Posthumous birthday anniversary
…Son blames OBJ, IBB, Abacha for father’s death
….As encomiums pour in from textile workers, NCP, Odumakin
By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsuru Olowoopejo
lagos—GOVERNOR Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State yesterday unveiled a new 34-foot statue to immortalise late legal luminary and human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, at the new ‘’Liberty Park” Ojota, Onigbongbo Local Council Development Area, LCDA.
According to Ambode, the unveiling of the new statue was a demonstration of his administration’s belief in the ideals and principles of social justice, equity and better society which Gani was known for during his life time.
Represented by his deputy, Dr. Oluranti Adebule, Ambode said, “As a government, we draw inspiration from Fawehinmi’s struggles and ideals as we strive to make life meaningful for our people. Significantly, I call on Nigerians to draw strength from the exemplary life of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi. Let us work together to fight poverty and improve our society for the benefit of generations to come.”
While describing the late activist as a selfless individual who committed his life to the principle of a better society, the governor said: “We celebrate the invaluable contribution and personal sacrifices of Chief Gani Fawhinmi in the campaign for human rights and dignity, especially in Lagos State where he spent the greater part of his life.
During his life time, Chief Fawehinmi loomed large in the minds of the people, especially the underprivileged and vulnerable masses for whom he was ready to lay down his life and his acts of philanthropy were borderless. The unveiling of this 34-foot statue therefore symbolizes the phenomenon that Chief Gani Fawehinmi represented in his life time.”
Speaking, Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana SAN, described the new late Fawehinmi’ statue as the best monument in the country, saying Fawehinmi was a thorn in the flesh of dictators as he was totally committed to fundamental change – Change from poverty to prosperity.
While appreciating Ambode for investing in the re-modelling of the statue, he said: ‘’It is a mark of greatness to honour great people like Gani who stood for justice, accountability, transparency and equity. ‘I want to suggest that the streets named after British administrators who carted away our country’s resources; should be changed to names of our countrymen who have contributed positively to good governance.’’
In the same vein, Vice President of IndustriALL Global Union and General Secretary, National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, Comrade Issa Aremu, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to accord the late Chief Fawehinmi a posthumous national honour in appreciation of his selflessness and commitment to nation building.
Aremu while commending Governor Ambode for what he called “historic tribute after similarly unveiling the statue of the Late Fela Kuti last year” recalled that “for the late human rights activist, the methods and strategies might vary, but the objective is the same: get justice for the oppressed”.
According to him, “Very few progressive lawyers in Nigeria’s history has made effective use of instrumentality of the law to push for respect for good governance as Gani did. The iconic lawyer always had eye on justice as distinct from cases and judgements”.
Also speaking, Mr. Ayodele Akele, Secretary, National Conscience Party, NCP, who expressed happiness over the re-modelling of the statue, said it was a birthday gift to the family, friends and associates of Fawehinmi.
For the Convener of the Women Arise for Change Initiative, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, Fawehinmi gave all his resources, time and energy to defend human rights.
On his part, son of the late activist, Mr Muhammed Fawehinmi, however, blamed former President Olusegun Obasanjo and ex-Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida, for his father’s death.
He said: “I want to laugh in the faces of three leaders and unfortunately one of them is dead. The triumvate of Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha. My father would have beaten hell out of Abacha in heaven. But to Obasanjo and IBB, the man they wanted to kill his spirit is the one a governor of this country has erected his statue here. Let me see how they will come here and destroy it.”
He commended Governor Ambode, saying apart from being a befitting representation to the legacies of their patriarch, the statue would place their father’s name on the global map.
“I am totally overwhelmed. I want to say a big thank you to Lagos State Government and another very big massive thank you to Governor Ambode. In all honesty, he is the man I least expected this to come from.
“We understood when former Governor Fashola started this with a smaller statue and we were all glad that at least he remembered our mentor, our father, our leader in the human rights struggle and Senior Advocate of the Masses, SAM. But now seeing this, I now say to myself that Governor Ambode has placed the name of Gani Fawehinmi on a global map,” Mohammed said.