President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to gazette his order on June 12 and some heroes of democracy.
The President had on Thursday declared June 12 Nigeria’s new Democracy Day and conferred the title Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, posthumously, on the presumed winner of the 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola.
MKO’s running mate in the election, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, and the legendary human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, were also honoured – with the title Grand Commander Order of the Niger.
According to a statement by the Personal Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, the AGF is expected to take immediate steps to publish in order in the Federal Gazette.
News of the Presidents declaration went viral on Wednesday night and continued to trend through Thursday with many praising the President.
Some Nigerians including opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, were however critical of the timing of the declaration with President Buhari set to stand for re-election in eight months.
The declaration comes 25 years after the widely praised but unfortunately annulled elections and after years of calls by family, friends, associates of Chief MKO as well as statesmen and other stakeholders for him to be so honoured.
The family of late respected human and civil rights lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi, has revealed why they will accept the national honour conferred on the activist by the Federal Government.
Mr Mohammed, a lawyer and son of late Fawehinmi, explained the rationale behind the family’s decision on Thursday during a telephone interview with Channels Television.
“We are definitely going to accept this award,” he said on Politics Today.
“We are going to accept it is because it is predicated on the recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day, recognition of Chief MKO Abiola as President-elect who was never allowed to be sworn-in to rule this country.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Wednesday conferred a posthumous national award of Grand Commander of the Order of Niger (GCON) on Fawehinmi, as well as a posthumous honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) on MKO Abiola.
He had also declared June 12 as Nigeria’s new Democracy Day, in honour of Abiola who was presumed to have won the 1993 Presidential Election.
Fawehinmi’s son, in his reaction, commended the development which he said his father fought to achieve until his last breath in September 2009.
He added that when the news of the recognition got to the family, they received it with great joy, knowing that their agitation was finally addressed by the government.
Mohammed, who faulted allegations that the June 12 declaration was for political gains, reacted to the controversy triggered by the legality of the President’s decision.
He noted that the declaration ought to have been made since 1999, insisting that it was the right thing to do for any government.
Fawehinmi said, “It’s absolutely right. This was what former President Olusegun Obasanjo should have done in 1999 when everybody went to beg him. There’s no basis for May 29 existing (as Democracy Day).
“I have one belief, there is never a bad time to do something good. We were denied the opportunity of MKO leading us on June 12, 1993, and it is best that we set the record straight, which is what President Buhari has done now.
“We continued to agitate and happily 25 years on, we have achieved our aim,” he added.
Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode on Sunday unveiled a new statue of the late legal luminary, Chief Gani Fawehinmi at the ‘Liberty Park’, in Ojota.
Ambode said the 44-feet edifice symbolises the phenomenon that the rights activist represented in his life time.
The unveiling of the statue is in commemoration of the 80th posthumous birthday of the late icon.
The Governor said it was an affirmation of his administration’s commitment to celebrate personalities whose action have helped to define the fortune and spirit of Lagos State positively over the years.
The Lagos State Government is set to unveil a new statue of late Gani Fawehinmi, sited at the park named after the legal luminary and human rights advocate on Sunday in Ojota.
A statement by the state government on Saturday revealed that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, as well as members of the Gani Fawehinmi family, leading voices in human rights and other dignitaries across the state would unveil the statue in commemoration of the late activist’s 80th posthumous birthday.
According to the state’s Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mr Steve Ayorinde, who signed the statement, the remodelling of the statue was part of the government’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.
Ayorinde said the sculpture was also informed by the desire of the government to project and entrench the enduring legacy of the country’s foremost human right lawyer, activist, philanthropist and one of the icons of pro-democracy movement in Nigeria.
“Lagos State is proud that Chief Gani Fawehinmi’s courageous voice was loud enough for the world to take notice of socio-political developments in Nigeria.
“His fearless activism and constant interventions on behalf of the voiceless were legendary and helped ignite global interest on the plight of the masses and on Lagos as a liberal state that created an enabling environment for voices against oppression to be heard,” the commissioner said.
He stressed further that the 34-feet high statue would serve as one of the many iconic edifices that highlight the Ambode led administration’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.
Ayorinde recalled that Governor Ambode had noted that the relevance of Fawehinmi’s struggle for transparent and responsive governance remained the pillar of progressive leadership in the state and Nigeria in general.
“It is, therefore, pertinent to accord him the needed reference and respect in the company of great and revered minds that considered Lagos as home and an integral part of their success story,” he added.
The Commissioner noted that adequate security measures and traffic control have been put in place to ensure that the two-hour ceremony is orderly and befitting of Fawehinmi’s legacy.
The Lagos State Government on Tuesday denied reports that it was planning to replace the statues of late Chief M.K.O Abiola and late Chief Gani Fawehinmi at the Ojota parks with another monument.
Acting Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Adebimpe Akinshola, while reacting to a media report that the State was planning to replace the statues, said the ongoing remodeling of both parks was to accommodate bigger sculptures of the two prominent Nigerians.
“Rather than replace the two conspicuous monuments, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture with the approval of His Excellency, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, the Governor of Lagos State, commissioned group of artistes to remodel the entire park and erect a new but bigger, better and more aesthetic sculpture of the two prominent Nigerians for better appreciation of their contribution to the development of Nigeria,” Akinshola stated.
She added that the Government was already set to complete the remodeling of Late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola Garden at Ojota with a new statue and water fountain to enhance the aesthetic value of the park for better appreciation by visitors and enhancement of the June 12 presidential election narrative.
The Acting Commissioner said the remodeling work on Chief MKO Abiola statue commenced late January 2017 and is currently about 70 per cent completed.
She said the project also includes additional facilities such as a water fountain and a designated mini park, adding that the Chief Gani Fawehinmi sculpture also at Ojota was about 60 per cent completed, while the park is being enhanced with another work of art called “The Possibility”.
Akinsola reiterated the resolve of Governor Ambode’s administration to change the face of Lagos with the ongoing erection of 29 artistic sculptures and monuments at strategic locations across the State.
She said while many of the new world class creative monuments are at advance stages of completion, six of them completed and officially unveiled including the statues of the first settler in Lagos, Prince Olofin (erected at Ijora); the first King of Lagos, Prince Ado (erected at Moloney Junction, Lagos); Ojuloge (erected opposite the National Theatre), which celebrates and conveys the sense of beauty, grace, style and passion for fashion of Lagos Women.
She listed other completed monuments including The Drummer (erected at Ipakodo, Ikorodu), which depicts the Yoruba music culture, Youth Empowerment (erected at Sabo Yaba), which depicts situations and resources the youths deploy to improve quality of life as well as The Fisherman (erected at Badagry junction) which depicts one of the occupations and heritage of the people of Badagry.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Thursday said is ready to sacrifice his life for Nigeria but not for any political party.
Speaking while receiving the Presidential Candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) Martins Onovo, at his Hilltop private residence in Abeokuta, Mr Obasanjo said “Nigeria first means I will not sacrifice anything for the interest of Nigeria but I can sacrifice my own life for the interest of Nigeria, I can’t sacrifice my life for the interest of a party, I will sacrifice my life for the interest of Nigeria,” he declared.
Mr. Obasanjo also commended the role of the founder of the party and human rights activist, Gani Fawehinmi, maintaining that the late lawyer did not only fight injustice but also checked the excesses of governments in power.
“In the interest of a better society there is always the need for some people to serve as watchdogs. Fawehinmi throughout his life devoted his intellect and energy to fight injustice, bad governance, corruption and other social vices,” he said.
Four Nigerian political parties have declared that they are coming together to form a working political alliance as the country prepares for the 2015 general elections.
Announcing their alliance at the emergency national executive meeting of the National Conscience Party, the National Chairman of the party, Yunusa Tanko, said that the Advance Congress of Democrats, the Social Democratic Party and the Labour Party are joining forces to give Nigerians an alternative ahead of the elections.
“We are pained that up till now, the Nigerian people are yet to count their blessings without making unpleasant reference to how they are being governed. That is why we resolved as a political party, not to be part of any merger but in a working alliance with other like-minded political parties.”
The group also asked President Goodluck Jonathan to address some of the issues raised in the letter written by former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
“It is instructive to note that President Goodluck Jonathan should address the nation as a matter of urgency and answer most of the damning allegations which was leveled by the former president, which has placed this country in an unsecured situation.”
This is yet another alliance that has emerged in the country outside the All Progressives Congress, APC which was announced in February 2013, and wrestling power from Nigeria’s ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP has been the major motive behind these alliances, as declared by the parties involved.
The National Chairman of the Advance Congress of Democrats, Yusuf Buba, while justifying this recent alliance, referred to the parties on ground, as “a mix-up of strange bed fellows with different ideas and ideologies” which they claim is an opposite of their alliance that is built on the similarities in their ideas and ideologies.
The parties also said that details of their alliance would be made available to the public in 2014, as the 3rd alternative for the people, ahead of the 2015 elections.
Social media activists have argued that the new media has helped in propagating activism better that street demonstrations embarked on crusaders.
Speaking with Ebuka Obi-Uchendu on a Channels Television’s Programme, Rubbin Mind, blogger, Japheth Omojua, Accountant/Entrepreneur, Chinedu Ekeke and Social Commentator Olusegun Dada all agreed that impact of social media in mobilizing protest against wrong policies of the government has been remarkable.
Asked if it was not better to emulate the likes of Gani Fawehinmi and Olisa Agbakoba, who embarked on street protests to press home their demands, Mr Omojuwa responded by questioning the impact of those protests.
“What did those protest change,” he asked.
He said what is important in protest is the novelty it brings insisting that street demonstration have “lost their novelty.”
This edition of Rubbin’ Minds features a trio of Nigeria’s prominent online/social media activists; Japheth Omojuwa, Chinedu Ekeke and Olusegun Dada.
The young social media activists argued that their activism is subtly achieving a lot more than the era public protesters, such as late Gani Fawehinmi achieved.
According to Japheth Omojuwa, the beauty of protest in today’s world in the novelty that is brought into such protest and that is what can really determine how far the message goes rather the regular street protest which he claims as become the norm.
The online commentators also revealed their expectations on the forthcoming 2015 general elections and the role of social media vis-à-vis the need for governance to join the online community.