Muhammed Fawehinmi, the eldest son of late human rights activist and lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi, has explained why his father would have accepted the national honours given to him by the Federal Government.
He said this while receiving the posthumous award of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) on behalf of his father – nearly nine years after his death.
“I know he would have taken it, I know my father more than anybody. There are two reasons why he would have taken it,” Mr Fawehinmi said in response to those insinuating that his father would have rejected the award in principle.
“One, because June 12 was actualised. Two, because M.K.O. Abiola was recognised as president-elect. And you can see from the suggestion at the Senate that they are going to eventually declare the election results and he is going to be given all his benefits after 25 years which he has lost.
“So, for that reason that is victory for him because he went through hell and high waters to make sure that June 12 was actualised,” he said.
In 2008, Mr Fawehinmi rejected national honours given to him by former President Umar Yar’Adua saying the government was not doing enough to fight graft. His family also rejected a similar honour during Nigeria’s centenary celebrations in 2014. He died earlier in September 2009.
The family said last week the latest award appropriately honoured the memory of Mr Fawehinmi and, therefore, accepted it from President Muhammadu Buhari.
The late Mr Fawehinmi was amongst those who fought for the realisation of the mandate of Moshood Abiola, the winner of the 1993 presidential polls annulled by military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida.
Mr Buhari also conferred late MKO Abiola with the nation’s highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, (GCFR) and his then running mate, Babagana Kingibe, with the award of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).
The late legal luminary’s son also described Mr Buhari as the ”first sensitive and reasonable head of state”.
He said Mr Buhari is the first to listen to the cry of Nigerians and act accordingly.
While appreciating the president for the honour, Mr Muhammed expressed satisfaction at Mr Buhari’s victory at the 2015 general election and the fact that “he was allowed to govern”.
He also called on all Nigerians to support the president and “stop bickering and trivialities, religion and ethnic background”.
“If you lose, take it that way. We are experiencing problems in Nigeria now because of hatred of values but I know with ‘Oga’ at the helms of affairs things will be better for Nigeria,” he said.
He said he felt very proud that all the suffering of his father was not in vain.
Ganiyat Fawehinmi, the late activist’s wife who accepted the honour on behalf of the family, recalled the past ordeal of the family.
“I was a bit disturbed. Every time the security (officials) will come, turn our house upside down, even his office was broken into, they took away many files during Mr Babangida’s regime and they were not returned till date.
“So I just thank God that I am alive to witness today and I know that my husband will turn in the grave for this June 12 that is being actualised because he really fought and died for it.
“I believe God has a purpose for it. I believe that is how God wants it because you can’t run a race ahead of God. So, God has a purpose of actualising it today which is exactly 25 years after Hope ‘93 when Abiola wanted to be the President,” Mrs Fawehinmi told reporters outside the event hall.