Gani Fawehinmi: Unforgettable words of a legal luminary and champion of oppressed Nigerians
Comrade Ayodele, Chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government, Barrister Mohammed Fawehinmi, Mr. Nosa Igiebor, Editor in Chief of Tell magazine and Mr. Richard Akinnola with Gani’s first daughter at the presentation of two books on Gani
Book Title: Gani; In His Words (Selected Letters, Special Press Statements and Quotables of Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN from 1975 – 2008)
Author: Richard Akinnola
Reviewer: Tunde Akingbade
Gani In His Words is a new work by Richard Akinnola, one of Nigeria’s revered judicial correspondents, human rights activists, author and dogged champion of freedom of expression.
This work is a compilation of selected speeches, statements and quotations from the legal luminary, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN. There is no doubt that this book was done at this crucial moment in Nigeria’s history to remind us about Chief Gani Fawehinmi who was the champion of the oppressed and conscience of the nation. The book contains letters of historical and legal significance which Chief Fawehinmi wrote since 1982 to his friends, adversaries and great Nigerian leaders. From the compilation done by Richard Akinnola, one can easily reflect on the voyage and crusade of Chief Gani Fawehinmi when he was on earth. This book has kept alive the struggle and memory of Chief Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi – the unequalled and unrivalled legal luminary – champion of the oppressed and voice of reason and conscience of Nigerian people who passed on three years. This book of 100 pages is broken into three chapters. Chapter one contains Gani’s letters to President Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Alex Akinyele, Sir Adetokunbo Ademola, Letter to Dr. Olu Onagoruwa, General Sani Abacha and letter to the police on Dele Giwa. The second chapter focuses on Special Press Statements. Here you have press statements on the saga of medical treatment of Chief Bisi Onabanjo and Gani’s rejection of National Award.
Chapter three contains Gani’s words on marble. Great men can be remembered through their actions, words and writings. In this case; Gani Fawehinmi is being put in the public consciousness through his letters, press releases and words. These letters are spiced with facts, figures, law and of course history. They are clips of the character and personality of Chief Gani Fawehinmi. For Nigerians who have forgotten how they were and are being ruled, this book serves as a reminder of the sordid past and soiled moments in the nation’s political evolution.
This book is a compilation of archival materials that millions do not have or may have forgotten and it is pertinent to give credit to the author for having them in his archive and sharing with the public. In this book, the author is reminding us that history is made through the letters we write to ourselves. This book also falls into the category of historical letters that are made into books and it is similar to the one published by Professor Yinka Omigbodun, daughter of Late Colonel Victor Banjo which were letters from her father to her mother during his incarceration. Through those letters a lot of facts were unveiled about the personality of Banjo and the history of Nigeria.
Gani’s words and quotes can sometimes be dramatic and entertaining, but they are informative and educative. They are words of wisdom from a very courageous person. It is fashionable to be quoted these days either for the good, the bad and the ugly. Please permit me to borrow that phrase. But what are quotes? Quotes are words of wisdom that come from the brain and the mouth of great leaders. They are philosophical and psychological words that emanate from geniuses and creative minded people, writers and people with great minds. These words are often thought-provoking and highly inspirational.
Quotable words are usually from an individual’s fountain of knowledge. Great leaders from historical times are remembered by their use of words and statements that have become testaments to their life and times. Such cut across all spheres of human endeavor, be it in politics, religion, academia, military expedition, arts, law, businesses, and economy.
In the world’s great religions some of our great religious leaders, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Prophet Muhammed, May the peace of God be unto him, etc are remembered by their great words. The Yoruba people believe that words are like eggs. When they come out of the mouth of the speaker, they fall and break into pieces like eggs. To pack them back is impossible. The book which is being presented today contains words which Gani Fawehinmi had spoken many years ago. Gani’s words had been broken into pieces like eggs when he uttered them many years ago, but some of them have now been packed by Richard Akninnola in form of a book.
Over the years, words and quotes have been picked from great men like Winston Churchill, Reverend Martin Luther King, George Elliot, William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein and in our own country from Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and the great Yoruba leader – Obafemi Awolowo.
Remember Awolowo’s often quoted Alocutus after his sentence in the early 1960s. There were others great Nigerian politicioans who were quoted. People like Mbonu Ojike, the man who said Nigerians should “Boycott the boy cottables,” Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Chief Kingsley O. Mbadiwe the man who once called himself the ”Juggernaut of Politics.” However, no Nigerian has had a more politically piercing and legally unnerving words and quotable quotes like Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
How many Nigerian politicians since 1999 can anyone remember for the words of wisdom and incisive quotes that secondary and university students found inspiring?
By the way, I came across what some people referred to as quotable quote of a Nigerian – please don’t ask me. It’s on the internet.
Let me share some with you. This is just by the way but very instructive.
“And I believe this is the work of some mischief makers. Some of them are.
The president was once a(sic) children.
“The bombers who born them? Was it not a woman? They are once a(sic) children, now a group(sic) they are now bombing women and children making some children a(sic) widow.”
This is what Nigerian leadership has degenerated to. Observers are quoting garbage from our leader’s mouth. We need to be careful about what we say. Can our words stand the test of time? Gani’s words and letters have stood the test of time.
Gani’s quotes are his words on marble. Right from the cover of the book, the author reminds us of the late legal luminary’s down-to-earth comments to former President Obasanjo on the suspicion that “some Nigerian Crocodiles tears were being shed on the departure of his late wife. As I have reminded in one of my new works entitled; When Nigeria Slept, it’s really difficult to separate Gani Fawehinmi from the history of Nigeria State, evolution of modern legal practice, political and social activism and fight against abuse of human rights. The book contains photographs of some of Gani’s incarceration in many parts of the country and more unfortunately in a Bauchi Prison which was built in 1820 by the colonial administration. What Richard Akinnola has done in the book is to keep the memory of Chief Fawehinmi alive by publishing some of his verbal encounters with some of those who vilified him while he was alive. Gani in some of his reactions was adding to the exposure of modern Nigerian history. From his encounter with Nigerian leaders and, a reader can easily decipher into the personality, the life and times of Gani and his crusade. It’s a book to buy, read, enjoy and get informed.