Thursday 7 June 2018

Why We're Accepting Buhari's GCON Award - Gani Fawehinmi Family Speaks Out

The family of late Lagos lawyer and fiery human rights activist, Gani Fawehinmi, has spoken out that they would accept the GCON honour by the President Muhamamdu Buhari-led government. 

Late Lagos Lawyer and fiery human rights activist, Gani Fawehinmi
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday night, announcedthat the late Gani Fawehinmi would be posthumously conferred with the Grand Commander of Nigeria (GCON), Nigeria’s second highest honour.
According to an exclusive report by PREMIUM Times, the family of late Gani Fawehinmi would accept the latest attempt by the federal government to honour the iconic human rights activist for his pro-citizens advocacy and other legacies of bravery.
While speaking with the publication, Mohammed Fawehinmi, the first son of the late activist, disclosed that the family’s first statement since the announcement, is that they would accept the GCON because it truly honoured the memory of Fawehinmi, who died in September 2009 after a prolonged battle with lung cancer. He was 71.
Since Nigeria returned to civil rule in 1999, attempts had been made to recognise Fawehinmi, even though his criticism of successive governments unabashedly intensified. He refused to recognise Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military ruler who was Nigeria’s first democratically-elected president in the Fourth Republic, as a democrat or a leader with the interest of the masses at heart.
In 2008, he was offered a national honour as Order of the Federal Republic by President Umar Yar’Adua, an accolade he rejected on several bases of democratic ethos.
In 2014, five years after his passing, Yar’Adua’s successor, Goodluck Jonathan, decided to honour him posthumously with another national honour, but his family immediately rejected this on behalf of his memory.
In a February 27, 2014 letter sent to the then-Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, Mohammed Fawehinmi, the first son of the late activist, said his father’s memory would not be properly served if the family accepted such honour.
Fawehinmi listed several national crises that dogged Jonathan’s administration at the time and said they contradicted his father’s belief system. Amongst them were the unabated killings of vulnerable Nigerians by the Boko Haram insurgents, a crisis which the government at the time looked helpless to contain.
The high degree of corruption suspected to be going on under Jonathan’s watch at the time was also cited by Fawehinmi. Perhaps the most off-putting wrongdoing of Jonathan for the Fawehinmis was the inclusion of Babangida amongst those to be honoured alongside their departed patriarch.
The family blasted the Jonathan administration for being insensitive to the traumatic experience which Babangida inflicted on the late Fawehinmi.
“We therefore, find it morally incongruous and psychologically debilitating for our family to stand on the same podium with General Babangida to receive awards,” the family said in the letter rejecting the award.
Fawehinmi told PREMIUM Times by telephone on Thursday morning that the association of Abiola with the latest offer made it difficult to reject like the previous ones.
“This would have been my father’s happiest moment, because what he had canvassed for is the now being done,” Fawehinmi said.
“Accepting the award is a fuller affirmation of the commitment. The award is coming at the same time as the recognition of Abiola as the winner of the June 12 election,” he added.
Fawehinmi also responded to concerns from some quarters that Buhari is also honouring Babagana Kingibe, one of the president’s closest allies.
Kingibe was the running mate to Abiola, but later denounced the June 12 campaign and joined Mr Abacha’s junta.
“The president’s gesture to Kingibe was a recognition of the ticket rather than whatever controversies Kingibe might have courted at the height of the June 12 struggle,” Fawehinmi said.

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