The family of the late human rights activist, Gani Fawehinmi has finally accepted the posthumous award to be bestowed on him by a Nigerian government.
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday announced that the late ‘senior advocate of the masses’ will be bestowed the nation’s second highest honour of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).
Since Nigeria returned to civil rule in 1999, an attempt to recognise Fawehinmi was rejected in 2008 when he was offered the national honour of Order of the Federal Republic by then president Umaru Yar’Adua The family rejected the honour at the time citing failure to uphold democratic principles.
Again in 2014, Fawehinmi alongside afrobeat king, Fela Anikulapo Kuti were slated to be given posthumous awards by the president Goodluck Jonathan.
But Mohammed Fawehinmi, the first son of the late activist, in a February 27, 2014 letter sent to the then-Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, said his father’s memory would not be properly served if the family accepted such honour due to some stance by the Jonathan administration which were contradictory to his father’s ideals.
The family in the said letter cited the nomination of the former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, for the same award, the unbridled killing of students by Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East and the incessant corruption reeking across the country, including the alleged missing of $20 billion from NNPC as reasons for rejecting the nomination.
“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.
However, Fawehinmi, in an interview with Premium Times, said the family warmly receives Buhari’s posthumous honour of the patriarch unlike the previous ones.
“Accepting the award is a fuller affirmation of the commitment of the late Mr Fawehinmi. The award is coming at the same time as the recognition of Abiola as the winner of the June 12 election.
“The award to Abiola is a veiled indictment of the old decision by the evil geniuses of yesteryears.
“This would have been my father’s happiest moment, because what he had canvassed for is the now being done,” Fawehinmi said.
Fawehinmi also commended Buhari for 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 the Sani Abacha junta.
“The president’s gesture to Mr Kingibe was a recognition of the ticket rather than whatever controversies Mr Kingibe might have courted at the height of the June 12 struggle,” Fawehinmi added.