Late Chief Gani Oyesola Fawehinmi whose life epitomised a complete and total struggle for the rights of the downtrodden of Nigeria, is being remembered during this period as the world celebrates him again on the occasion of his 80th post-humous birthday.
Gani, as he was popularly called during his lifetime will forever remain in the memories of the people of this country for his dogged fight against military dictatorship and bad governance. His advocacy for rule of law, human rights, democracy and good governance was legendary as he put his life on the line for all these.
It’s on record that in the annals of this country, there has never been any Nigerian who fought fervently and vigorously in defence of his beliefs more than the legendary Gani. Even his tormentors; the khaki boys against whom he waged serious wars and who put him in prison many times, did testify to his unparalleled patriotism and unalloyed loyalty to the principles of good governance, rule of law and democracy.
It’s also on record that there is no Nigerian – living or dead – who was tormented more than him as he went to prison for more than forty times before his death. Never was he a criminal but rather, a prisoner of conscience. There is hardly any famous prison in this country that did not play host to Gani because of his principled stance against military dictatorship and struggle for the emancipation of the masses of this country from the state imposed poverty, hunger, misery and deprivation.
Gani throughout his lifetime remained a role model to millions of Nigerians, while he was also widely admired abroad for his rare courage. The tenacity with which he fought for the people of this country was highly spectacular so much so that he earned himself the title of Senior Advocate of the Masses (SAM); a title no Nigerian ever got before him.
As a philanthropist, many Nigerians – irrespective of tribe and religion – benefitted from his kind gestures as he doled out scholarship to a lot of indigent people, especially students across the whole country. As members of the fourth estate of the realm whose rights Gani also defended vigorously while alive, we sincerely feel it would amount to a great disservice to the memory of this late exemplary Lawyer and great humanist if we failed to pay him tribute on his 80th post-humous birthday.
Thus a fortiori, as the world remembers this icon during this period, we cannot but join millions of other people in paying tribute to a man who was a symbol of total commitment to the principles of good governance, rule of law and democracy as we earlier mentioned. The best way we believe this rights activist can be continuously remembered is for us as a nation to uphold those values and ideals for which he lived and died for. May his soul continue to rest peacefully. Amen.