President Muhammadu Buhari saturday paid tribute to Nigeriaâ€™s late foremost social critic and selfless legal luminary, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, on todayâ€™s occasion of his posthumous 80th birthday, describing the late legal icon â€œas a true conscience of the nation, defender of democracy and peopleâ€™s rights advocate.â€
In a statement, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said as the world posthumously marks the 80th birthday of Fawehinmi today, the president fondly remembers Gani, whom he described as the legendary patriot for his altruistic services to the nation, which he said continued to be sorely missed.
He added: â€˜The late Senior Advocate of the Masses was not an arm chair-critic, nor a rabble rouser who fomented trouble for its sake; but a serious minded, articulate, cerebral and compassionate promoter of fundamental human rights, social justice, equity, fair play and national development.
â€œGani was an extraordinary human being and a great reference for all progressive elements in society. He dared death and incarceration and was forced into prison 40 times without bowing to intimidation and molestation. He fought for and stood by democracy with every ounce of his blood and immense intellect. He deserves a lingering respect,â€ the president was quoted as saying.
The statement also said Buhari admonished Nigerians, young and old, to imbibe the good deeds of the Ondo State born, detribalised, learned man and Muslim leader (the Seriki Musulimi of Ondo town), â€œfor his doggedness, incorruptibility and fervent belief in the unity and progress of Nigeria as an entity.â€
It also said the president noted that Fawehinmi who would have been 80 years old today, would never be forgotten as a committed pace setter and pathfinder for the democracy that is practised today.
â€œThe president therefore urges contemporary civil rights activists and human rights advocates in the country to emulate the late icon, through constructive criticism and useful suggestions as partners in the pursuit of national peace, unity and development,â€ the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government is to unveil today a new statue of Fawehinmi, SAN sited at the beautiful park in Ojota which is named after the late legal luminary and human rights advocate.
State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, with members of the Fawehinmi family, leading voices in human rights and other dignitaries across the state, will unveil the edifying statue in commemoration of the late activistâ€™s 80th posthumous birthday.
Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr. Steve Ayorinde in a statement, said the remodelling of the magnificent Gani Fawehinmi statue was part of the Stateâ€™s strategy to enhance the aesthetic beauty of open public spaces and parks across the state and to celebrate and immortalise worthy icons that contributed immensely to the development of Lagos State.
According to the Commissioner, the new statue was also informed by the desire of Lagos State government to project and entrench the enduring legacy of the countryâ€™s foremost human right lawyer, activist, philanthropist and one of the icons of pro-democracy movement in Nigeria.
The 34-feet high statue will serve as one of the many iconic edifices that highlight the Akinwunmi Ambode-led administrationâ€™s quest to transform the landscape of the state with artistic aesthetics, while also signposting the belief in giving honour to whom honour is due.
The commissioner quoted Governor Ambode as saying that the relevance of Ganiâ€™s struggle for transparent and responsive governance remains the pillar of our progressive leadership in Lagos State in particular and Nigeria in general.
Sundayâ€™s unveiling is expected to be witnessed by members of Ganiâ€™s family, friends, protÃ©gÃ©s and loyalists that have sustained the legacy of the late legal icon by keeping the flag of human rights advocacy, fairness and justice flying.
The Commissioner added that adequate security measures and traffic control have been put in place to ensure that the two-hour ceremony is orderly and befitting of Gani Fawehinmiâ€™s legacy.