By Gboyega Akinsanmi
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode yesterday unveiled a 44-feet statue at the Liberty Park, Ojota in honour of lateÂ Chief Gani Fawehinmi, a human rights fighter and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) before he died on September 5, 2009.Â
Â He unveiled the statute to mark Fawehinmiâ€™s 80th posthumous anniversary, which according to him, affirmed commitment â€œto celebrate personalities whose action have helped to define the fortune and spirit of Lagos State positively over the years.â€
Ambode, who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Idiat Adebule, said the late activist would continue to remain a hero and role model for many in the country and around the world till date and that the statueÂ symbolised the phenomenon that the rights activist represented in his life time.
He, therefore, eulogised the relevance of the personal sacrifices Fawehinmi made in leading the struggle for attainment of human rights and dignity especially during the military regimes which dehumanised many citizens of the country.Â
He said: â€œWe celebrate the invaluable contribution and personal sacrifices of Fawehinmi in the campaign for human rights and dignity, especially in Lagos State where he spent the greater part of his life.
â€œFawehinmi loomed large in the minds of the people, especially the underprivileged and vulnerable masses for whom he was ready to lay down his life.â€
He said: In the hallowed corridors of the Law Courts where he fought many battles, he was revered as a titan. Also his acts of philanthropy were borderless. He remains a hero and role model to many till date.â€Â
Ambode said his administration would continueÂ â€œto advance human rights and uphold of social justice at all time. It will continue to draw inspiration from Fawehinmiâ€™s struggles and ideals in its quest to make life meaningful for Lagos residents.
â€œAlthough Fawehinmi is no longer in our midst; like all great men, he lives on in our hearts and memories. We will continue to keep his ideals alive and pass it on to the next generation. He will continue to inspire us as we forge ahead with the missing of building a better society. This monument stands as a testimony of his strength and courage.â€
After the unveiling of the statute, the son of the late activist, Mr. Mohammed Fawehinmi saidÂ the Fawehinmi family endorsed Ambode for re-election, citing massive infrastructure projects he had been able â€œto execute under three years.
Apart from being a befitting representation to the legacies of their patriarch, Mohammed acknowledged that the 44-feet statue would place their fatherâ€™s name on the global map.Â
He said: â€œI am totally overwhelmed. I want to say a big thank you to Lagos State Government and another very big massive thank you to Ambode. In all honesty, he is the man I least expected this to come from.
â€œWe understood when former Governor Babatunde Fashola started this with a smaller statue. 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.Â
After I saw this statute, MohammedÂ Â said,Â IÂ started to say to myself that Ambode had placed the name Gani Fawehinmi on a global map.
He described Ambode as a very reputable accountant and one of the most outstanding governors in Nigeria, saying he was the first in the history of Nigeria to do something such gigantic and that the statue would enter the Guinness Book of Records.
The widow of the lat rights activist, Alhaja Ganiyat Fawehinmi, Mr. Femi Falana, Comrade Ayodele Akele, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, Dr. Femi Okurounmu, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi and Dr. Yunusa Tanko, among others, were present while the statue was unveiled.Â Â